Amid an increase in COVID-19 cases in Punjab, a worrying pattern has emerged with rural belts reporting higher numbers of deaths. According to government statistics, the case fatality rate (CFR) or death rate from COVID-19 in villages is 2.8% compared to 0.7% in urban areas.

Previously, Punjab’s Health Minister Balbir Singh Sindhu said that between January 1 and April 12, 2021, 58% of deaths from COVID-19 were recorded in rural Punjab, compared to just 27% of positive cases.

As of April 30, the state registered 6,132 new positive patients with 114 deaths, bringing the total to 3,70,973.

Amardeep Singh Cheema, chairman of the Punjab Health System Corporation, attributes the increase in death rates to people’s fear, which leads to late reports to hospitals by patients.

“People come to hospitals when the symptoms are severe. They are reluctant to get tested, ”he said.

To monitor the death rate in Punjab, the health ministry said it had increased rapid testing statewide. “The rapid tests save us 24 to 48 hours. If a person tests positive on a rapid test, the person is isolated and given a kit. But the same person would also undergo RT-PCR, ”said a health department official.

Also read: COVID-19: Poor contact tracing, less vaccination, government laxity behind Punjab outbreak

Fear of testing and public isolation, according to Cheema, is a major factor in the increase in cases.

“In families where one person is the sole breadwinner, they worry about the survival of the family in the event that they test positive and are put in isolation. This is the main reason. The only way to reduce the death rate curve is early detection and we are working on it, ”he added.

Meanwhile, at the Guru Govind Singh Medical College and Hospital in the Faridkot district of Punjab, doctors are struggling to deal with patients who leave the hospital against their advice. According to them, suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients are leaving the hospital without authorization. So far, 25 of those patients have left since an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases was recorded in the state, hospital management said.

“We call these patients LAMA (Left Against Medical Advice). We have informed the district authorities and the police authorities to make sure that they are isolated at home, ”said Sheikh Mittal, medical director of the hospital. NewsClick.

Also read: Is the Punjab ready for the second wave of COVID-19?

Mittal pointed to ignorance and lack of awareness among people as the reason for these incidents.

Meanwhile, highlighting problems with contact tracing, COVID-19 nodal agent Dr Rajesh Bhaskar has alleged that many contacts are refusing to be tested. “The major challenge is that asymptomatic cases spread to others. People are not tested on time. We are improving our contact tracing, but people are taking the virus lightly. We lose precious lives on a daily basis. Contacts are reluctant to get tested, ”he said. NewsClick.

Vaccination, according to Bhaskar, is the way forward. Due to the “unavailability” of the vaccine, the government of Punjab announced on April 30 the postponement of vaccinations from 18 to 45 years. On the same day, CM Captain Amarinder Singh said vaccines are scarce and the vaccines obtained were insufficient to meet the “two-dose needs” of the 45 and over age group.

“Fewer people are getting vaccinated because we are facing a vaccine shortage. The 45+ age group has a population of around 70 lakh. We vaccinated about 20 lakh with the first dose, ”Bhaskar said. NewVSlick.

Pilgrims returning from Pakistan after celebrating Baisakhi were reportedly involved in a fight and tore up health documents at the Attari Integrated Checkpoint (AICP). The pilgrims, officials said, were reluctant to get tested because they had already been tested a week before leaving for Pakistan.

Talk to NewVSlick, an official spokesperson for the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee which facilitates the visit to Pakistan for religious events, said: “Yes, they were reluctant to get tested and fought with the officials. People have a lot of misconceptions about the virus. They think they are being targeted because of the virus. “

Of those who were tested, about 98 tested positive and asked to observe home isolation.