From single digits to over 600 COVID-19 cases being recorded everyday, there has been a massive surge in Puducherry since the polls on 6 April.
A strict lockdown has been imposed from 23 April to 29 April while a night curfew has been in effect from 10 pm to 5 am every day.
As on Thursday, 22 April, 48,336 COVID-19 cases had been recorded, 42,931 discharges and 713 deaths.
The fatality rate is 1.48 percent, which is higher than the national average of 1.2 percent. The recovery rate is 88.8 percent, which, too, is higher than the national average of 86 percent.
The Quint spoke to senior doctors in COVID wards who said that while the situation was under control, they feared the surge would add pressure on the resources, staff and hospitals in the next few weeks.
Resources Could Run Out if Surge Continues
Puducherry is now under President’s rule with Lieutenant Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan issuing COVID advisories.
Ahead of the Assembly polls on 6 April, massive rallies were held across the Union Territory that led to the urge, experts said.
“Every day, we are reporting over 600 cases and we are discharging only 10% of that. So slowly the number of beds will run out. We are being told to create facilities for more beds. Instead we should be advising patients the right treatment, home quarantine and not put pressure on hospital beds, unless absolutely necessary,” said Dr Kowshik Reddy of the Pulmonology Department at Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute, Puducherry.
Data Showing Coronavirus Cases in Puducherry From December 2020 to April 2021:
“The demand is rising and Remdesvir is not available in plenty. As of now oxygen supply is ample but we need to be vigilant. And since Puducherry is not a hotspot, we are not even on the top priority list for certain medicines.”Dr Kowshik Reddy, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute, Puducherry
JIPMER has issued an advisory for referral of critically ill COVID-19 patients from other hospitals, stating that the unprecedented surge has led to unnecessary delays and affected patient-care adversely.
“Out of irrational fear or just privilege, many people who are stable are getting admitted, despite the doctor advising against it. This could deprive so many patients who need immediate attention,” said a senior doctor at the COVID ward in JIPMER.
Data Showing Active Cases From December 2020 to April 2021:
Data Showing Persons Discharged From December 2020 to April 2021:
Public Hesitant to Get Vaccinated
Till 21 April, 15,5209 persons had been vaccinated in the past 73 days in the Union Territory.
The Lt Governor had inaugurated a ‘vaccination festival’ at the Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) on 21 April, a programme organised in association with private medical colleges and hospitals under a public-private partnership.
Under the vaccination drive, 30,473 healthcare workers, 18,128 frontline workers and 10,9471 members of the general public were inoculated. But there has been a significant decrease in the number of people willing to the vaccine.
Soundararajan has reassured that there is no shortage of vaccines in Puducherry and hoped that the Union Territory will emerge as the first in the country with 100% coverage of people under the vaccination programme.
Senior doctors in the UT urged people to get vaccinated as “this would lessen the burden on hospitals and help keep the severity at bay”.
Complete Lockdown To Contain Spike
The government has taken steps to provide masks at affordable prices through 70 government milk cooperative Ponlait outlets to make them easily available to the poor. Masks are being sold for Rs 1 and the sanitiser bottle for Rs 10 at the outlets.
As per the curfew order, all hotels, restaurants and food courts will be permitted to operate till 8 pm with only 50 percent capacity. They have also been asked to make arrangements to fix transparent plastic barriers on tables and counters, so as to avoid COVID-19 transmission. The beaches will be open only till 5 pm.
A total of 20 areas have been identified as containment zones. As per the instructions by the All India Medical Council, based on the number of COVID-19 cases, they have been differentiated into Red, Orange, and Yellow and are being thoroughly monitored.
A senior doctor in the COVID ward in JIPMER told The Quint, “One week of strict lockdown can make a huge difference. It is pathetic that the government doesn’t want to issue such an order as they don’t want the public to tell them that they are not handling the pandemic well. The testing needs to be ramped up and we should be prepared for more complications.”
“We are not sure how the virus is going to mutate. There are already so many variants and this is constantly changing and getting complicated. Even if there is another spike, it will worsen. We will run out of equipment and beds soon,” Reddy said.