Coronavirus statistics are dismal most of the times, not so bleak once in a while. The new normal of 50,000-plus additional cases on a daily basis has the country on the edge. Comfort can be drawn from the fatality rate dropping to 2.1 per cent, the lowest since the lockdown in March, but the death count nearing 40,000 is disheartening. An encouraging development for Punjab is that it is registering the lowest Covid-positive rate — considered a major indicator of a state’s response — of 3.1 per cent, against the national average of 8.89. The dispiriting bit is the sudden spike in the state. In two weeks, around 200 deaths and 8,000 cases have been reported. The surge has led to suspension of all elective surgeries in government hospitals for 15 days.
Punjab needs to be extra vigilant as reports suggest that almost half the people testing positive are aged between 21 and 40 years, attributed to more mobility for employment purposes. This age-group would comprise roughly one-third of the state’s population by next year. Sadly, the message that caution is the name of the game has not been digested despite repeated appeals. An astounding 3.5 lakh people being fined and 1,500 being booked for not wearing a mask is a frightening level of negligence. With gyms opening, citizen-backed campaigns have to be activated for more responsible behaviour. The numbers will increase, but the risk and volume can certainly be reduced.
In Haryana, an RTI query has led to revelation of a disturbing Covid-related figure: a 46 per cent rise in the number of deaths of infants between April and June compared to 2019. Restricted access to health services during the initial phases of the lockdown has been cited as the reason. The overall deaths in the state rose by over 2 per cent despite far less road accidents. OPDs were reopened only following directives in mid-April. The pandemic is unsparing, its effects are all-pervasive. Public health and public minding its health should remain the focal points.