Managing Covid surge

The unrelenting resurgence of Covid-19 in the worst-affected states, including Punjab, is proving to be a multi-pronged challenge for both the authorities and the public. The coronavirus has struck again with renewed force, crumbling the healthcare sector in its wake. At the same time, as Covid-appropriate norms go for a toss and issues of vaccine hesitancy/availability remain, people are at greater risk of contracting the disease. The emerging scenario is worrisome. Gaps in the optimal number of testing labs and Covid care centres in certain areas, as also workforce and logistic requirement, necessitate plugging.

While the Central team has done well to point out these loopholes in the Covid management strategy of Punjab, it needs to address the concerns of the state that is struggling to meet the demand arising from the surge. As the positivity rate rises steeply, taking both the old and young down, the burden entailed on health infrastructure is overwhelming. Already, the occupancy of ICU beds in hospitals earmarked for Covid patients in Amritsar, Ludhiana and Mohali is nearly full. Notably, the hospitalised patients comprise just about 25 per cent of the total caseload. The remaining are under home isolation, but equally in need of constant monitoring by doctors. Not surprisingly, this crippling load has taken a toll on the staff strength, compounding the patients’ woes as they encounter shortage of medical staff for providing aid with oxygen cylinders, ventilators and medicines.

While ramping up corrective efforts, the CM must weigh the advice proffered on hiring additional medical and paramedical workers. Plus, the focus on vaccinating the masses and motivating them to take the jabs must not waver. In this context, the Centre must ensure that Punjab does not run dry — as it fears — of the immunity-boosting shots. Like banning the export of Remdesivir medicine for the time being, the Centre should revise its vaccination policy and okay the inoculation of all categories of people so that the desired herd immunity level is achieved faster and the chain of infections controlled.

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