With Punjab being among the four states where coronavirus infections have seen a sudden surge in the past few days, the officials attribute it to lowering of guard by the people.
As per the health department, focused sampling of teachers and students after reopening of schools has also added to the number of infections in the state.
Dr Rajesh Bhaskar, Punjab’s nodal officer for Covid-19, said: “As people have lowered their guard against the virus and the use of masks has reduced drastically, the daily cases are increasing.”
As per health department figures, even since focused testing of teachers was undertaken after schools were opened by the state government, more than 55 have turned out to be Covid positive in the past two weeks. The figures suggest that as many as 275 school students were also found infected in this period.
In Shaheed Bhagat Singh (SBS) Nagar, earlier known as Nawanshahr, 23 teachers and 189 students have been detected positive in this duration of testing, becoming the major reason behind the surge in the virus cases in the district, health officials said. With 495 positive cases so far, the district now has highest number of active cases in Punjab, followed by 368 in Ludhiana and 367 in SAS Nagar. As of Friday morning, the state’s active cases stood at 2,642.
Notably, when Covid-19 struck the country, SBS Nagar had become one of the first hotspots. Later, however, the district led by example and maintained a significantly less caseload throughout the lockdown period. But once again, it is back in focus due to the sudden surge in infections. “Our cases in general sampling have not increased. Assessment shows that a sudden rise has come due to the detection of the virus in teachers which has further spread to the students and their family members,” said Dr Bhaskar. “We are also sending a few samples for genome testing to a Pune lab to check for the possibility of another virus strain,” said the nodal officer.
The department analysis suggests that most of the students and teachers turning out infected with the virus are mostly asymptomatic.
Meanwhile on changing school timings, education minister Vijay Inder Singla said parents firmly supported the decisions of Punjab government on reopening of schools.
How cases are rising in Punjab
The number of daily infections has increased in the state in the past few days with figures suggesting maximum 341 cases added on February 17, highest single-day spike in the past month. State’s seven-day average, which was found to be 181 on January 27, has increased to 260 on February 18.There is no let-up in the state’s death toll too as Punjab continues to have the highest case fatality rate (CFR) in the country at 3.2%.