CHANDIGARH: Taking exception to the Centre’s criticism of Punjab government’s management of the Covid surge, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said not only was the state consistently doing more tests per million than the national average, but the situation would perhaps have been better had the Centre not delayed opening up of vaccination for 45+ age group.
“Had the central government acceded to the state’s request for allowing vaccination of all 50+ category population earlier, instead of delaying the decision to include 45+ age population by almost two months, the situation would perhaps have been better than present,” he said.
02:52COVID situation in Punjab, Maharashtra of grave concern: Centre
The Punjab CM was reacting to the Centre’s allegation that the state government was not doing enough Covid testing and isolating affected people.
He added that Punjab had placed severe restrictions on social gatherings and closed all educational institutions, with night curfews imposed from 9pm to 5am in severely affected 11 districts.
He further said that the state government had been repeatedly requesting the Centre, in writing, as well as in meetings attended by the chief secretary, that the current strategy of immunization needs a review.
Vaccination in a campaign that covers all age groups in selected areas will lead to better outcomes than the periodic cycles of vaccination targeting a small section of the population at each cycle, he stressed.
The CM underlined the need for such an approach in any area where weekly testing shows a doubling of positivity rate.
Amarinder flagged the delay in receiving reports of genome sequencing.
Of the 874 samples sent, only 588 reports had been received so far, of which 411 samples were found positive for B.1.1.7 (UK Variant and 2 samples positive for N440K.
The implication of presence of UK variant mutants needs to be looked into and appropriate advice is required to be shared with the state, the chief minister said.
On the testing front, Amarinder noted that during the first peak, which happened in September 2020, the positivity rate was around 10 and the state was testing 30,000 Covid samples per day.
Now, when the positivity is over 7 per cent, the state is testing around 40,000 Covid samples per day.
The state is consistently testing around 90 per cent RT-PCR and about 10 per cent RAT, and its per million testing is 1,96,667 while the national average is 1,82,296, he pointed out.