Virus in villages: Higher Covid toll in rural Punjab rings alarm bells
With the rural areas of the state witnessing four-time higher case fatality rate (CFR) as compared to cities, the state health department has directed the district health authorities to keep a tab on the elderly and patients with co-morbidities in home isolation.
A large number of deaths in rural areas are being attributed to the patients getting self-treated at home and not coming to hospitals.
According to the orders, medical officers have been asked to prepare a list of the elderly and comorbid patients of their areas and take feedback on their health condition by calling them.
“Report any breach of home isolation or refusal to get referred to higher facilities as soon as possible to the SMOs and keep contacts of SHOs of the police stations concerned to involve them for the hospitalisation,” reads the communication sent to medical officers.
Former director of Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, and head of expert group of Punjab government on Covid management Dr KK Talwar said: “We have adopted a new strategy for patients in home isolation with more focus on their surveillance. Reluctance in getting tested and late reporting has been the reasons behind high CFR in rural areas, but with the new system, we are hopeful to bring down,” said Talwar.
Second wave deadlier in rural areas
The second wave of Covid-19 has proved deadlier in the rural areas as villages have registered 2.8% CFR as compared to 0.7% in urban areas.
“Deaths are more in the rural areas this year. The reason behind high CFR is that in the rural population is contributing to 23% of the total caseload in the second wave, whereas 77% of the cases belong to urban segments,” said state’s nodal officer for Covid-19 Dr Rajesh Bhaskar.
According to the health department, the CFR in rural areas at the first visit to the health facility is high. 83.92% of patients visited the hospitals when their condition deteriorated, 0.11% with moderate symptoms and only 7% with mild symptoms, the health department data revealed.
Villages report 35% of total deaths in Patiala
Patiala: In the past two months, rural areas have reported 35% of total Covid deaths in the district. Of the total 268 fatalities between March and May 3, the rural areas of the district saw 94 deaths.
Villages have reported 3,453 (21%) positive cases of the total 16,043 infections in the district in the past two months.
Civil surgeon Dr Satinder Singh said the number of deaths and cases are increasing in rural areas. “Such trends were not witnessed during first wave of the Covid-19 last year, as the deaths reported in villages then were negligible,” he said.
A doctor at a rural dispensary said people living in villages are visiting the health centres at an advanced stage. “Condition of many patients had already deteriorated when they come to us and we have no option but to refer them to Rajindra Hospital,” he said.
In the past 24 hours, Government Rajindra Hospital reported 38 deaths, of which 12 were from Patiala district. Of the 12, seven belonged to rural areas.
In Sangrur, 97 deaths have been reported from rural areas of the district this year. Of these three patients died in home isolation, according to a data collected by the district health department. Till now, the district has reported 372 deaths due to the virus. Of these 152 were from the villages.
UK strain behind surge in Doaba
JALANDHAR: In Jalandhar 60% of the total Covid deaths have been reported from rural areas since February. Health officials attribute this to UK strain, which was found in Phillaur and Nurmahal areas, considered a rural belt of the district.
Hoshiarpur civil surgeon Dr Ranjit Singh said more Covid deaths are being reported from rural areas of the district as people were taking medicines from local practitioners and were reporting late to the hospitals.
Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar civil surgeon Dr Gurdeep Singh Kapoor said: “We have increased contact tracing of Covid patients. People in rural go for self medication resulting in more fatalities,” he said.