COVID: Amarinder government shifts focus to Punjab villages as double mutant variant continues to wreck havoc

Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan said the official machinery along with the teams of various departments have been working diligently to create awareness among the rural population.
For representative purposes only (File photo| PTI)
For representative purposes only (File photo| PTI)

CHANDIGARH: Amid the spread of coronavirus infection in rural Punjab, Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan on Sunday urged villagers to get themselves tested and vaccinated against the virus urgently.

Expressing concern over the recent spike in daily cases and deaths due to Covid in the state's hinterland, she said the official machinery along with the teams of various departments have been working diligently to create awareness among the rural population.

It has, however, been found that most of the villagers report only after their condition deteriorates, she added.

The chief secretary said if a patient with the Covid's early symptoms like cough, cold and mild fever reports to the nearest hospital in time, the infection can be cured without any major complications.

Chairing a meeting to review the Covid situation here, the state's top bureaucrat said with the concerted efforts of the government, another consignment of vaccines was expected to reach Punjab soon.

This will further help in accelerating the pace of the vaccination drive in the state, Mahajan said in an official statement.

She said Punjab would get 1.14 lakh additional doses of Covaxin by May 31.

While urging all eligible people of the state to get themselves inoculated against the fatal disease, Mahajan made a fervent plea to the people living in villages to get themselves vaccinated to stop the recent surge in Covid cases in rural Punjab.

Even as the state was getting less supply of vaccines than its demand, the chief secretary asked district officials to vaccinate the vulnerable persons timely.

She also asked district authorities to check the reported overcrowding at the vaccination sites.

She also asked officials to identify unregistered construction workers and explore the possibility of vaccinating them.

She informed industry leaders that if they want to vaccinate their employees, they can contact the authorised officers of the concerned districts.

She informed that industries will be given Covaxin at the cost of Rs 430 per dose and the officials must encourage the industries to order government-approved vaccines at their own level.

She said private hospitals should also be encouraged to provide vaccination at reasonable rates.

She also asked all government employees and officials to get themselves vaccinated.

The state registered 202 more coronavirus deaths, taking the toll to 11,895 on Sunday, according to a medical bulletin.

The infection tally rose to 4.98 lakh with 7,038 new cases, while 9,059 more patients recovered.

The active cases declined from 77,789 the previous day to 75,478, the bulletin stated.

The test positivity rate is 9.76 per cent and the number of recoveries rose to 4.1 lakh, it said.

Twenty-two deaths were reported from Bathinda, 20 from Ludhiana, 19 each from Muktsar and Fazilka, and 15 from Patiala, among others.

Ludhiana reported 942 cases, but it was lower than Saturday's infections of 1,132.

Bathinda registered 705 more cases, followed by 673 in Jalandhar and 542 in Mohali.

There are 443 critical patients who are on ventilator support, while 9,796 are on oxygen support, the bulletin said.

Meanwhile, Chandigarh registered 664 fresh cases, taking the count to 55,367, while 857 more patients recovered, according to a medical bulletin.

Ten more people succumbed to COVID-19, taking the toll to 635.

The active cases dropped from 7,847 on Saturday to 7,644, it said.

With 857 patients recuperating, the number of recoveries reached 47,088, as per bulletin.

Meanwhile, the presence of the double mutant variant of the coronavirus has been found in 22 per cent samples that were recently sent by the PGIMER here for sequencing.

Reports of sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 from 23 swab samples that were sent were received from the National Centre for Disease Control, New Delhi, last Thursday.

"Presence of the double mutant B.1.617 variant having the signature mutations L452R and E484Q has been confirmed in 22 percent (5/23) of the samples after sequencing," PGIMER Director Jagat Ram said on Sunday.

A PGIMER release quoting Ram stated that the B.1.617 variant, first identified in India last year, had been found in more than 40 countries and recently classified as a "variant of concern" by the World Health Organization.

"It has been found by researchers that the mutations in the double-mutant strain render it to be more transmissible and vaccine-induced antibodies are somewhat less potent in neutralising this variant," he said.

"The surge of cases during the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic has somewhat been attributed to the B.1.617 variant strain," he said.

"Of the other samples, the UK variant -- B.1.1.7 -- which is also a variant of concern and associated with higher transmissibility was found in 39 per cent (9/23) samples."

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The New Indian Express