Even as he appealed to the people not to risk their lives by delaying COVID testing, Punjab Health & Family Welfare Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu on Wednesday asked the DGP to initiate stern action against anti-social elements spreading misinformation about testing and treatment of the disease.
On a day when 106 deaths were reported due to the Coronavirus in the state, the Health Minister said delayed diagnosis in patients reporting for testing/treatment at the COVID facilities was the main cause of the high mortality rate. As many as 67% of all COVID deaths were due to patients reporting at the health facility for the first time after suffering severe signs & symptoms, he disclosed, adding that these cases then become difficult to manage, leading to fatality.
Pointing to reports received from districts about resistance in communities to sampling and testing for COVID, the Minister said even symptomatic persons with co-morbidities have not been reporting to the healthcare facilities till the disease becomes acute. This is the cause for maximum COVID deaths being among patients with co-morbid conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart and kidney disease, he added. Sidhu revealed that more than 50% of the COVID deaths in the state have been among Diabetics.
The Minister said the delay in patients reporting at hospitals and healthcare facilities was on account of the false propaganda and fake news being spread by anti-social elements regarding testing and isolation of COVID patients and negative propaganda against Health Workers. These elements were even prevent health teams from organising sampling and screening camps, he said, adding that several cases have been registered against the rumor mongers across the State.
In fact, said the Minister, there have been instances of Medical teams/ sampling teams being manhandled, and also cases of resistance to shifting of COVID positive patients to isolation facilities. In one such instance, the medical team that had gone to shift COVID positive patients to an isolation facility at Patran, Patiala, was manhandled and when the police force tried to intervene, villagers attacked the police personnel, injuring two police persons and damaging the police vehicle. Such incidents have created an atmosphere of insecurity and lead to lowering of morale of Health Workers leading the fight against COVID, said Sidhu.
The Minister appealed to the people of State to join hands with State Government to combat this pandemic. He said that in the absence of a vaccine so far, the only option for all was to follow the health protocols in letter and spirit till the vaccine is developed.