Stressing the need for Centre to urgently open up vaccination for a bigger section of population, he said it was essential to vaccinate more people to break the chain of transmission. He pointed out experts had found Covishield vaccine to be equally effective against the UK variant – B.1.1.7.
‘Samples to be sent for genome sequencing’
As the UK strain increases the risk of death, sample of patients who succumbed to the virus will be sent for genome sequencing too. The government is focusing on finding how widely the new variant has spread in the state and how the infection caused by it differs from others The prevalence of the UK strain warrants stringent compliance with safety guidelines, including maintaining social distancing and masking – two measures the state government has so far struggled to enforce.
Dr Ram Kumar, president, Society for Promotion of Ethical and Affordable Healthcare, said as the new variant is highly infectious, people need to take precautions, besides taking steps for building immunity through a rich diet and physical activities.
To protect the vulnerable population, there is a need to increase vaccination coverage, an area Punjab is lagging. As on March 22, Punjab has administrated the first dose of the vaccine to 2,32,512 beneficiaries in the category of 60-plus and 45-plus population with co-morbidities. It has so far provided the first dose to 1,28,895 frontline workers and 1,27,042 health workers.
Expressing displeasure over low numbers in the state, chief minister Amarinder Singh had directed all private and government hospitals and health facilities to offer hassle-free vaccination services for at least eight hours a day and seven days a week till March 31.