Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday said that he has ordered a team of health experts to carry out a detailed audit of every COVID-19 death in Punjab in order to understand the alarmingly high death rate in the state due to coronavirus infections.
The CM was speaking during a CWC meet chaired by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi via video conferencing.
He informed party leaders that his government was strengthening its pandemic containment measures under guidance of this expert team which includes Dr K K Talwar, former Director PGI, Dr Raj Bahadur, V-C of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Dr Rajesh Kumar, former head, School of Public Health, PGI, among others.
Amarinder added that COVID-19 mortality in the state was high largely due to co-morbidity and lack of health-seeking behaviour (patients come late to hospital).
But he argued that despite the high mortality rate of 6.2 per cent, the rate of growth of COVID-19 in Punjab was lower than India, with the cases doubling in 16 days against the national average of nine days.
Amarinder also pointed out Nawanshahr’s success in containing the spread of the disease and said that the effort has been appreciated by the Centre as well as the media.
Nawanshahr, which was one of the first hotspots in the country, now has zero coronavirus cases under treatment. After recording its first and only death due to COVID-19, the district has managed to stage recoveries in rest of the 18 cases in four weeks.
The CM said that Punjab’s performance in fighting the pandemic had to be compared with Kerala and Gujarat, which were also states with high NRI population. He said that Punjab was doing significantly better than Gujarat. About Kerala, he said that while the southern state had 12 cases per million population, Punjab only had 9.
Punjab currently has 257 positive cases, with 16 deaths. While two patients are critical, 53 have recovered. The state has 3 Containment Zones (where there are more than 15 cases) — Jawaharpur, Safabadi Gate-Patiala, Budhlada. Three of the state’s districts — Ferozepur, Fazilka and Bathinda — are Green Zones with no cases.
Hitting out at the Centre, Amarinder claimed that resources of Rs 4,400 crore of GST have not yet been released by the Central government.
Giving details of the state’s efforts to ramp up testing, he said: “In place of 1 lakh rapid testing kits, we have received only 10,000 China-made testing kits and their authenticity is yet to be tested.”