In an ironic turn of events, Punjab farmers, who are largely responsible for spreading the UK strain of the coronavirus in Delhi through their ongoing demonstrations, recently staged a protest against the COVID-19 mismanagement in Punjab.
The Punjab body of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) has called a three-day protest to oppose Captain Amarinder Singh-led Punjab government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. This comes a day after Singh announced the extension of COVID-19 restrictions in Punjab till June 10.
According to farmer leaders, 2000 to 3000 protesters are expected to join the demonstrations against the state government’s disastrous handling of the coronavirus outbreak. They have alleged that the Punjab government has failed in building its health infrastructure, because of which there has been a surge in the number of caseloads in the state.
Farmer protests, gatherings in Punjab key to the spread of UK strain in northern states: Report
Even as farmers hold the state government of mismanaging the COVID-19 crisis, it is worth noting that the epidemiologists from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have linked the farmers’ protests to the rising number of coronavirus cases in Punjab and Delhi caused by the UK strain.
“Punjab played a key role in the rise of cases related to the B.1.1.7 variant. There were at least four major clusters (super spreader events), marriages, farmer protests from February 1 to February 28, that are responsible for large spikes. By March, Delhi was warned about a possible 15,000 critical cases,” said Dr Sujeet Singh, who is a director at NCDC.
As per reports, the UK strain was first found mostly amongst the NRIs who had returned from the UK. As per reports, in March Kapurthala and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar accounted for nearly 26 per cent of all COVID cases in Punjab. Punjab’s Doaba region comprising of these two districts contributed to 25.6% of all COVID related deaths on March 19. On April 5, it accounted for about 28% of COVID deaths in Punjab.
Doaba is also known as the ‘NRI belt’. As per reports, the NRIs in this area are also a huge supporter of the Aam Aadmi Party. Ahead of the 2017 state assembly elections, AAP supporters from abroad had campaigned for AAP candidates in the region. It is believed that many of the NRI relatives who visited their ancestral homes back in Doaba unknowingly brought the UK variant virus with them. Of the four districts falling under the Doaba region, AAP has two MLAs. The virus had then spread across most of Punjab and subsequently to Delhi on the account of farmers’ protests.
Rising number of COVID-19, Black Fungus cases in Punjab
Ironically, Captain Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in Punjab had initially thrown its weight behind the farmers’ protests that have now trained its guns on the very same government. The COVID-19 caseloads in Punjab have risen sharply in the last few weeks, along with the increasing number of Black Fungus cases. As many as 3,914 fresh cases of Covid-19 surfaced in Punjab, while the virus claimed 178 more lives on Thursday. In the last 24 hours, four more patients infected with Mucormycosis died, taking the death toll to 27 for the state. So far, 222 people have been infected with the disease of which 192 are from Punjab.