Chandigarh With the Centre advising Punjab and four other states to take preventive measures in view of the latest surge in Covid-19 cases, the government has asked all the district administration to double the testing.
Testing has slowed down in the state even as there has been a rise in cases in the last week (February 14-21). The state tested 1, 23,379 samples with an average of 17,625 daily this week, only once crossing 20,000 mark. The previous week (February 7-14) when the average daily testing was 18,980, more than 20,000 samples were tested thrice.
Daily cases go up
Alongside the dip in testing, the state has witnessed increase in cases with the week ending on Sunday (February 14-21) witnessing 2,161 fresh cases with a daily average of 308 infections as compared to 1,652 cases in previous week (Feb 7-14) with a daily average of 236 patients.
In the week of February, 1,370 positive cases were detected with a daily average of 195. In past three days, the state has witnessed 1,073 new cases.
As per health department figures, in the last one week, the number of new infections has grown by an average of 0.2% every day, which almost double as compared to the first week of this month.
As various reports suggest, after the Centre specifically asked Punjab to focus on testing, all the deputy commissioners have been instructed to ramp-up the testing. “All the districts have been asked to double the testing immediately so that we cross the daily target to 30,000 a day,” Punjab’s nodal officer for Covid-19 Dr Rajesh Bhaskar said.
Surge in fatalities too
Punjab’s Case Fatality Rate (CFR) has remained highest in the country at 3.2% with the state witnessing 5,754 Covid-19 deaths till February 21. In the second and third weeks (February7-14 and February 14-21), the state recorded 57 and 56 deaths, respectively, which are more than double the number of deceased reported in the first week with 27 virus-related fatalities.
Sources in the health department also disclosed that the Centre has once again flagged the high CFR with the government.
‘No trace of new strain’
The state has refuted reports by some experts about the presence of the new Covid-19 strain in Punjab.
“No sample has been found positive for the new strain till now. A few days back, we received reports of 14 samples from the Pune lab and all were negative for the new strain,” said the nodal officer.
Cases are going up in the state primarily because people have started violating Covid protocols, he said, adding, “Cases are surging but the situation is not alarming. Following the Covid protocols strictly can reverse the latest surge”.