With Covid UK Strain Most Prevalent, Punjab Extends Curbs Amid Spike

In the past 24 hours alone, 2,868 fresh cases were reported from across the state with 59 deaths.

The infections are expected to peak around April 6 in Punjab and reduce by late May.


Punjab today extended its Covid-19 curbs till April 10 as the number of cases and fatalities continued to escalate. The UK strain of the virus has emerged as the most prevalent among all in the state, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said today, directing the Health Department to hike the number of vaccination sites.

Reviewing the situation with Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan and other top officials, Mr Singh said all restrictions in place till March 31 will continue till April 10, after which they would be again reviewed, a government statement said. He ordered the launch of a vaccination drive in prisons in the wake of 40 women in Patiala’s Nabha Open Jail testing positive for Coronavirus.

In the past 24 hours alone, 2,868 fresh cases were reported from across the state with 59 deaths. This constituted a considerable section of the overall 56,211 new cases reported from across the country.

Data shows that 326 of the 401 Covid-19 positive samples sent initially for genome sequencing at the National Centre for Disease Control were found to be of the UK variant. Up to 85 of the 95 samples sent to the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in New Delhi, too, were of the same nature, the statement said.

The UK had late last year announced that this strain was up to 70 per cent more infectious. The Indian Council of Medical Research had successfully cultured it first in January after the first case was reported from Madhya Pradesh.

The Union Health Ministry today issued a statement saying Punjab was neither conducting adequate number of tests nor being able to promptly isolate Covid-19 positive people, PTI reported.

Expressing grave concern, the Chief Minister asked Ms Mahajan to order testing and vaccination in busy market areas and other crowded places. All eligible government employees and other categories which he had sought inclusion in vaccine coverage should be helped with it, he said. Any photo ID shall be sufficient to approve the vaccination of eligible beneficiaries, Mr Singh said, accoding to the government release.

Projections presented at the meeting today showed the number of cases peaking around April 6 in the state and decreasing by mid or late May. Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar, Hoshiarpur, and Kapurthala may contribute more and positivity is likely to be high among those aged 40 or less.

The Chief Minister sought an increase in bed-availability in private hospitals treating critically-ill patients and directed all districts to ramp up sampling in general. He was assured that the Health Department was ready to increase RT-PCR testing to 35,000 a day, the release said.

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