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Punjab sero survey shows 27.8% have antibodies in worst-hit districts, CM extends restrictions

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh extends night curfew timings and weekend lockdowns indefinitely while banning all public gatherings, excepts weddings & funerals, until August end.

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Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh Thursday indefinitely extended the weekend lockdown and night curfew timings in the wake of rising number of Covid-19 cases in the state.

The announcement also followed the release of the state’s first sero survey that showed 27.8 per cent of residents in containment zones had developed antibodies against Covid-19, indicating that they had contracted the virus and recovered.  

Since July, Punjab has been under complete lockdown on Saturdays and Sundays. Night curfew, that was from 9 pm to 5 am, has now been changed to 7 pm to 5 am in all 167 cities/towns. The decisions come into effect from Friday.

CM Amarinder Singh also ordered a total ban on all gatherings, except weddings and funerals, across the state until 31 August. Government and private offices will now work at 50 per cent capacity until the end of this month, as opposed to 75 per cent capacity that had been allowed so far.

The decisions were taken during a Covid review meeting chaired by the chief minister, at which the results of a fortnight-long serological survey were also released.

“Enough is enough,” said Captain Amarinder, adding, “We need to be tough without affecting the state’s economic activity.” 

Pointing to the 920 Covid deaths reported in the state as of 19 August, he said “each death pains me, and the projections for the coming weeks are grim”.

Punjab has been witnessing an increase in Covid cases in the last few days. State government data showed that 1,165 new cases had been reported on 16 August, 1,492 more on 17 August, 1,704 on 18 August, 1,693 on 19 August and 1,741 on 20 August.

The total number of cases in the state currently stand at 37,824, of which 13,830 are active and 957 cases are of people who died of the infection.

Also read: How a protest meeting at a Chandigarh hotel infected 13 Punjab govt officers

First exclusive sero survey

Punjab’s first exclusive sero survey was conducted in five containment zones from 1-17 August in a random sample population of 1,250. The earlier surveys were more generalised and were conducted by the state government in coordination with the Indian Council of Medical Research, the premier medial research body in the country.

According to the findings, submitted to the CM during the meeting, the highest prevalence of antibodies among residents in containment zones was found Amritsar (40 per cent), followed by Ludhiana (35.6 per cent), SAS Nagar, Mohali (33.2 per cent), Patiala (19.2 per cent) and Jalandhar (10.8 per cent).

The sample included 250 people from each zone, and from each of the selected households, one adult above the age of 18 was randomly chosen for the survey. 

Overall, the seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies was found to be 27.8 per cent in the containment zones.

The release of Punjab’s survey findings coincided with the release of Delhi’s second sero survey results, which showed nearly 29.1 per cent seroprevalence in the national capital.

Restriction imposed in worst-hit districts

In the five worst-affected districts, restrictions on vehicular capacity have been imposed again, with buses and other public transport to operate with 50 per cent capacity and private four-wheelers not allowed to carry more than three passengers per vehicle.

The chief minister also directed the deputy commissioners in these five districts to allow only 50 per cent of the non-essential shops to open on a daily basis to check crowding. 

These five districts currently account for 80 per cent of the active caseload in the state, said the CM in a statement.

Also read: How Covid changed Punjab CM from an ‘inaccessible Maharaja’ to people’s problem-solver


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