Coronavirus | Decline in mortalities, new cases in Puducherry

High testing volume, early detection, hospitalisation of symptomatic patients reasons for turnaround

The Union Territory has recorded a dramatic decline in COVID-19 deaths over the last month with high testing volume, early detection and hospitalisation of symptomatic patients being the key reasons for the turnaround.

The ramping up of testing volumes to about 5,000 a day that helped early spotting of coronavirus infections has been one of the main reasons for the success on the morbidity and mortality counts as it has helped quicker referrals to a COVID facility while immediate isolation of the symptomatic patients cut off further transmission to others, officials said.

The Union Territory, which had carried out 2,63,481 tests to date, has covered over 17 per cent of the population so far.

For the first time in months, the Union Territory did not record any COVID-19 death on Sunday, while 177 new cases emerged from 4,072 tests. The test positivity rate was 4.34%, case fatality rate 1.73% and recovery rate 85.36%.

The infection rate of under 5% is the lowest recorded yet, said J. Ramesh, Nodal Officer for COVID-19, Health Department.

So far, July 8 was the only day that the Union Territory went without a single COVID-19 death. That the toll at that time was 14, illustrates the sharp spike in mortalities that characterised the spread of pandemic in the Union Territory since. A random time series comparison shows that deaths crossed 100 (aggregating 102) on August 14, aggregated 211 by August 30, 365 by September 12, 405 by September 15 and stood at 521 by September 30.

As of Sunday, the toll in the Union Territory stood at 574 while the cumulative total was 33,141 cases and 28,290 patients got recovered. Over 550 deaths were reported in July, August and September with the highest single-day toll of 20 deaths registered on September 5.

“The lowering of deaths and new infections is due to a combination of factors, ranging from implementation of recommendations of ICMR experts, ramping up of oxygen beds in IGMCRI and private hospitals, launching of fever clinics and the door-to-door testing by health teams to spot symptomatic patients,” said S. Mohan Kumar, Health Director.

The launch of 21 COVID-19 focus centres that screened fever patients, household outreach and clinical audit of each death to plug shortcomings within hospital setting or externally such as ambulance support for timely transportation of patients are among other reasons attributed for the success in bringing down deaths and new cases. Through August, the case fatality rate was as high as 1.98% while the test positivity rate was about 38%.

“An important aspect of bringing the pandemic under some measure of control is that even in August when there was a natural peak following abolition of e-pass, the administration did not resort to a harsh lockdown and ensured that vital sectors of the economy were up and running,” said T. Arun, Health Secretary and District Collector.

Meanwhile, an assessment of the COVID status in the Union Territory as of October 13 by the Health Department showed that almost 40% of the deaths occurred when the patient admission was between 24 hours and 48 hours.

However, what should concern the health authorities is that almost 33% of deaths were occurring during hospitalisation ranging from two to seven days and 25.57% of deaths happened even when the period of hospitalisation exceeded a week.

An interesting phenomenon of COVID-19 mortality has been that substantially more women than men were falling victim to the infection. The status check showed that 68.77% of the victims were women against 31.22% men.

Age-wise stratification of deaths showed that 57.19% of the victims were above 60 years of age, 24.56% in the 51-60 years age range and 17.19% in the age bracket of 31-50 years.

In terms of co-morbidities, diabetes mellitus emerged the most dangerous co-existing condition for COVID-19 patients accounting for over half of all deaths in the Union Territory.

Diabetes was an underlying condition in 52.28% of victims followed by hypertension (37.36%). Curiously, COVID-19 was fatal for only 5.61% of patients with respiratory illness, the data showed.

“The challenge now is to sustain the good work of the past weeks,” Mr. Arun added.


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