The Punjab government on Tuesday said it will start a sero survey, especially focused on children in the age group of 6 to 17 ahead of a possible third Covid wave. The survey will start this month. Sero surveys or sero prevalence studies are based on analysis of antibodies collected through blood samples.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said the outcome of the sentinel sero-surveillance survey, aimed to assess the prevalence of the infection among under 18, will be utilised to determine further localised restrictions as the state prepares for the third wave, according to a government statement. GIS-based surveillance and prevention tools will be used with an auto trigger mechanism for localised restrictions, he said.
Dr KK Talwar, head of Punjab’s expert committee on COVID-19, said in the first and second waves, 10 per cent of those infected were under 18 and while there was no concrete data to support such a projection, the state was preparing to handle more cases of children in the third wave.
The chief minister also ordered establishment of a paediatric unit in each district and one centre of excellence in paediatrics for the state. While announcing Rs 331 crore for a possible third wave, in addition to the money already allotted for emergency Covid response, the CM said the government will establish liquid medical oxygen storage tanks in every district to ensure round the clock availability of the life-saving gas.
Medical gas pipeline systems will also be set up at each district and sub-division level, he said. He also announced the establishment of 17 additional RT-PCR labs. ICU beds in government hospitals shall also be increased to 142, and a hub and spoke model for telemedicine and teleconsultation will also be established, said Amarinder Singh.
The CM expressed satisfaction over the strategy for the preparation of the third wave, pointing out that testing has been maintained around 40,000- 45,000 a day, with special focus on high density areas and vulnerable population.
Contact tracing has also been maintained at 18 per positive patient. Talwar further informed the meeting that Punjab was currently in a comfortable situation though the fear of a third wave continued, with the Indian Council of Medical Research predicting it by end of August or start of September.
The situation may not be as bad as in the second wave unless a new variant comes before that, he noted. He, however, stressed the need for extreme caution with crowds building up even as cases were on the rise in some states.
The CM also announced extension of benefits of existing schemes for persons with disability to those suffering from any disability caused by mucormycosis. The benefits will be extended as per the nature and degree of the disability, he said.
The chief minister directed the Medical Education Department to establish post-COVID care centres in government medical college hospitals for free follow-up of the cured cases of mucormycosis. Though mucormycosis cases had declined, with only 3-4 cases reported per day last week, he directed the concerned departments to monitor the situation and keep close tabs on patients recovering from Covid.