As cases continue to rise unabated in Punjab, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh ordered a series of preventive measures on August 20 to contain the spread of novel coronavirus in the state.
CM imposed a daily night curfew from 7 pm to 5 am in all 167 towns and cities of the state from August 21, followed by a ban on all public gatherings except weddings and funerals, while the work-force capacity in government and private offices has been limited to 50% and the weekend lockdown has been extended till August 31.
Punjab recorded its highest single-day spike of 1,741 cases on August 20 and has continuously registered 1,000 or more daily cases since August 11.
While there has been a progressive and expected increase in the addition of cases every 15 days in Punjab, the growth rate doubled in August. From June 21 to July 6, 2,417 cases were added which was 1.55 times the growth in the previous 15-day cycle. This multiple increased to 1.81 for the 15-day period ending July 21, rose to 2.04 on August 5 and it reached around 2 on August 20.
Although the total number of cases in Punjab (37,824) as of August 20 is still the lowest amongst 15 major states of the country, the proportion of cases per million of its population (of 3 crores) of 1,266 is higher than Gujarat, Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
More concerning is the growth rate over the last month of 3.6 which is amongst the highest within the 15 states analysed.
Punjab shares borders with Haryana and is just marginally bigger in size with a slightly higher population. Yet, the growth rate in Punjab over the last month has been almost double of Haryana.
LOW POSITIVITY BUT MORTALITY RATE HIGHER THAN NATIONAL AVERAGE
Punjab has tested 28,100 samples per million population – higher than the likes of Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh.
Its overall Positivity Rate of 4.5% is also amongst the better performing states and lower than the national average of 8.7%. Amongst major states, only Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Rajasthan have a better Positivity Rate. However, the Positivity Rate has increased from 1.83% on July 1 to 2.88% on August 1 to 4.5% on August 20.
Till July 25, 291 Covid-19 deaths were recorded in the state and in the next 26 days, 666 people died of the viral infection. This implies that almost 70% of the total Covid-19 fatalities in the state have been recorded in the last 26 days.
The Mortality Rate has also risen from 2.29% till July 25 to 2.65% thereafter. Overall, the state’s Mortality Rate of 2.53% is higher than the national average of 1.9%. Only 3 states – Gujarat (3.4%), Maharashtra (3.3%) and Delhi (2.7%) have a higher Mortality Rate.
Punjab recorded its highest daily death toll of 50 on August 17. Its weekly toll has gone up from 93 for the week ending July 30 to 147 on August 6 to 189 on August 13 and to 251 on August 20.
There are six-worst affected districts which account for nearly two-thirds (65%) of the cases and three-fourth of the total number of Covid-19 deaths in the state.
Ludhiana the severely affected district – has the maximum case-load, highest number of deceased and a high Mortality Rate of 3.34%. Amongst the major districts, Amritsar has the highest Mortality Rate in the state.
Several other districts have witnessed a sharp spike in the number of cases over the last month. The surge in Barnala has been acute with infections rising from 96 on July 24 to 828 on August 20– an increase of almost 9 times.
Bathinda has seen its cases surge 4.55 times to 1,590 in the last 20 days while Ferozepur has recorded a four-fold increase in this time-frame. Moga too reported a three-time rise in the number of cases during this period. Gurdaspur has witnessed a surge from 378 cases on July 26 to 1,274 cases on August 20.
However, with fresh guidelines and restrictions, authorities are hoping that the deteriorating situation amid unlocking the economy would improve.