Cases peaked in second week of Jan, third wave waning: CMO

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As Covid cases in Panchkula start to gradually plateau, the district CMO on Tuesday expressed hope that the worst was over and Panchkula may have actually seen the peak of its cases during the second week of January.

The district had on January 12, reported 1,065 cases, the highest ever since the pandemic swept through the country. “We hit the peak around January 11. From then onwards, we have seen a slight but gradual decrease in the number of cases as well as positivity rate. It is too early to say anything concrete as to when exactly the wave will end as cases are still high,” CMO, Dr Mukta Kumar, said while speaking with The Indian Express.

Data showed that the number of cases had dipped from a high of more than 1,000 per day in the second week of January to hover around 500 throughout the third week of this month. On Tuesday, 541 new Covid cases were reported in the district.

Speaking on the lesser number of deaths recorded during this wave, Dr Kumar said, “In the second wave, most people who contracted the virus were showing signs of severe respiratory distress and needed oxygen. In this wave, hospitalisation has remained very low. Only 15-20 per cent of beds remain occupied, even those being hospitalised were not very critical. Only a handful, who were already suffering from severe comorbidities, succumbed to the virus this time around. The disease is running its course in 5-7 days. A majority of the patients are recovering on their own.”

Dr Kumar’s observations were backed by data from the daily health bulletin, which showed that despite the number of infections growing at a pace that was more rapid than that of the second wave, the number of people succumbing to the virus has remained low, with nine deaths witnessed in the past 25 days of January.

Even though the cases continue to come down gradually, Dr Kumar said that it would be too early to presume that the Covid wave had ended. “In Panchkula, the pattern of the virus was similar to that of other countries or even cities in India, for example, Mumbai and Delhi. The positivity rate has come down after touching a peak. I feel that the virus is following the same pattern. The cases should not rise further. In fact, there should be a progressive drop in cases from hereon. But we cannot really assess the timeline as to when that will happen,” she said.

The health department has also credited the wide-scale vaccination programmes to be a major reason for the Covid wave being mild this time. “Though a majority of those who succumbed in the district were vaccinated, they had severe comorbidities which made them more susceptible to the virus. We think vaccination may be one of the main and crucial factors for the mildness of the disease this time,” the CMO added.

She added, “No young healthy Covid positive person has succumbed to the virus. Most who have passed away are either above the age of 75 or with severe comorbidities such as cancer.”

Panchkula covered huge ground in terms of Covid vaccines and managed to fully vaccinate its target population on January 14. The district had also in September last year become the first in the Tricity to fully vaccinate all senior citizens who had registered.

Speaking about the progression of disease during the current wave, the CMO said, “People must keep monitoring their respiratory rates and temperature. Look out for unusual symptoms. As soon as respiratory distress sets in or a person notices anything alarming, they must get to a hospital, whether government or private. Each person who contracts the infection must see a doctor, even if for an overall consultation at the beginning. Medical consultation is crucial.”

Though mild, Dr Kumar asked people to continue following Covid protocols. “Deaths due to comorbidities continue to happen and people must mask up and take this virus seriously. All Covid protocols, including masking up, washing of hands, and ensuring general hygiene must be followed. A good diet also plays an important role as immunity is crucial in this wave. This variant is super contagious. Almost everyone being tested is coming positive. Masking and following Covid protocols are the only things that will help,” she said.

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