Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday directed the expert group — headed by Dr Gagandeep Kang — to start studying the effectiveness of vaccines in the context of the new variants of Covid-19.

The month-wise whole-genome sequencing has shown that while in March, around 95 per cent of total cases detected were due to the UK variant, in April 2021, the Delta variant starting increasing and by May it had become dominant, reaching nearly 90 per cent. It was also a matter of concern that the Brazil variant (B1) had increased from one per cent in April and stood at 8 per cent in March, said the Chief Minister at the Covid review meet.

He underlined the need to get more samples analysed to have a clear picture and formulate a proper strategy. The state’s advisor Dr KK Talwar said an expert group was being constituted to analyse the audit of patients who had been on ventilator support during the second wave to provide learnings for the future.

Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan told the meeting that Dr Talwar was trying to arrange for genome sampling in Patiala’s Rajindra Hospital.

The Chief Minister also ordered tracking of all black fungus (mucormycosis) cases, which currently stand at 441 in the state. Of these, 51 have already been cured and 308 are undergoing treatment, the meeting was informed.

Of the 441 total cases, 388 were from Punjab and the remaining from other states, Health Secretary Hussan Lal told the meeting, while informing that there is an adequate supply of drugs for treatment of the disease.

Calling for timely preventive steps against a possible third wave of Covid, through identification of early signs, the Chief Minister also directed the health and medical education departments to continue testing at about 50,000 samples a day. Contact tracing and testing must be maintained at 15 per positive patient, he said, while also stressing the need to strengthen the monitoring and management of home isolation cases.

The Chief Minister ordered steps to ensure adequate supplies of testing kits, medicines, Fateh kits, with proper healthcare services to be maintained, especially in rural areas and small towns. “We should consider placing Fateh kits in each health and wellness centre and other facilities, to ensure timely availability,” he added.

The Corona Mukt Pendu Abhiyan must continue in full force, the Chief Minister said, noting that almost 1.6 crore individuals (38 lakh households) had already been screened under the campaign, which had resulted in the identification of 6982 positive patients. He also asked concerned officials to ensure that the theekri pehras continued and other enforcement measures are in place to ensure that positivity in these areas is contained. The strategy of micro-containment, without stigmatising, must continue, he stressed.

The Chief Minister also directed the departments to expedite recruitments to ensure adequate manpower, backed by a timely increase of capacity, and strengthening of care programme in all L2 / L3 facilities in public and private sectors (particularly in districts with high Case Fatality Rate). The state should prepare for 25 per cent more beds than in the second wave, he said. He asked the health department to use the gap between the second and third waves to train specialists, especially in areas of shortage, such as in life-saving anesthesia skills.

He also expressed appreciation for Dr KK Talwar and his team for the brainstorming sessions they have been holding with Indian and international experts for continuous improvements to tackle the ongoing pandemic.


Source: 16 June, 2021, The Indian Express