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COVID-19 surge in rural Punjab: Many test positive among villagers returning from Delhi border protest sites, says report

Villages, where a large number of farmers have returned from protest sites at the Delhi border, are witnessing a sharp rise in Covid cases, says the Jagran report.

With the anti-Farm law protests losing their steam and farmers returning home, the number of new Covid-19 infections are on a surge in the villages of Punjab. 

As per a ground report by Dainik Jagran, the farmers who are returning from the Delhi border post registering their protest against the Farm laws are acting as the new super-spreaders in Punjab. 

The Jagran report says that their representatives went to 19 villages across 7 districts in Punjab where there is a sudden surge in Covid cases. It was found that it was the areas where a large number of people had returned from participating in the farmer protests. The farmers had lodged themselves in makeshift tents with no proper hygiene or sanitation at the protest sites. 

It is now being reported that most new cases of coronavirus are emerging from these districts. The report also suggests that people are not willing to disclose their participation in these protests. As many as 900 farmers had traveled from the Tarn Taran district of Punjab to participate in the protest.

Seven out of more than 20 who have tested positive in the Manakpur village had joined the protest at the Tikri border and ten out of the 40 who tested positive in Alamwala village were present at the protest site.

The situation in the villages of Punjab continues to remain worrisome as it is suspected that many more farmers sitting at the borders are said to be infected with the Covid-19 virus. 

Here’s some more data on farmers who had participated in the protests testing positive upon return, in Tarn Taran district:

  • Out of the 150 who assimilated at the protest site from Bhikiwind village, 22 have tested positive
  • Out of the 165 who traveled from Kulla village, 14 have tested positive
  • Another eight villages have reported 117 new positive cases after more than 250 participated in the protest
  • Another 250 farmers had participated from Tappa and Mahalkala villages of Punjab. Both villages recorded 156 active Covid-19 cases and 35 deaths
  • As many as 31 people have died in Dhanaula which has 140 active cases, however, the villagers refused to reveal how many had participated in the protest

The Jagran report further states that the families of the patients are deliberately avoiding Covid testing or revealing the actual reason for death. This is because the government of Punjab has announced a compensation of 5 lakhs to the kin of the farmers who die because of the ongoing protest. In such a case if the family reports Covid as the cause of death, they will not be eligible for the compensation.

We had reported earlier how rural Punjab is reporting a surge in deaths due to corona hinting at the connection to the ongoing protests. Reports suggest that 58% of the deaths reported in Punjab are from Rural areas.

According to government officials, a large number of deaths in the rural areas are because of the fact that the people are not going to the hospital and getting self-treated at homes. In an official communication sent to the medical officers, the Punjab government has asked them to prepare a list of the elderly and comorbid patients in their area and call them to take feedback on their health.

The order said, “Report any breach of home isolation or refusal to get referred to higher facilities as soon as possible to the SMOs and keep contacts of SHOs of the police stations concerned to involve them for the hospitalization.”

However, the rate of testing and hospitalization in rural Punjab continues to remain low. 

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