Punjab all set to establish plasma bank as COVID-19 cases spike in the state

CM Capt. Amarinder Singh gave the go-ahead for its establishment to facilitate plasma therapy treatment for COVID-19 patients, already being carried out as an ICMR trial project in govt-run hospitals

Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: IANS)
Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: IANS)

Bipin Bhardwaj

With Punjab witnessing a major spike in COVID-19 cases in the last couple of weeks, the state government is all set to establish a plasma banking the state.

Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh on Thursday gave the go-ahead for establishment of a plasma bank to facilitate plasma therapy treatment for COVID-19 patients, which is already being carried out as an ICMR trial project in government-run hospitals.

Chairing a review meeting of the COVID-19situation in the state via video conference, the Chief Minister approved the establishment of the plasma bank under the supervision and guidance of Dr Neelam Marwaha, specialist in blood bank and transfusion medicine and plasma therapy trials.

The plasma bank would serve as a ready inventory source for seriously ill patients or those at risk of severe disease, and will thus enable a wider range of adults to be treated with convalescent plasma.

According to a spokesperson of the government, 15 patients have been recruited for the trial, of whom eight were given plasma and rest seven had been placed in control arm as per randomisation by ICMR. Five patients have recovered completely and shall be discharged soon. A total of 11 donors have donated plasma so far of the 300 recovered patients, the meeting was informed.

Expressing concern over the increasing violations of safety norms in the state, many of them by political parties, the Chief Minister said he will write to the presidents of all the registered political parties to seek their cooperation in checking large gatherings. He said he will also appeal to them to avoid any actions that have the potential to spread COVID-19.

Pointing out that 258 cases had been reported on Wednesday, with 11 PCS and other senior officers, including CMO Sangrur, judges etcinfected so far, the Chief Minister stressed the need to raise the guard even further. Office staff, in particular, needs to be very careful, he stressed.

The CM has asked Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan to issue SOPs for government officers’ meetings and visit to other offices, making it clear that spread of infection among critical manpower due to casual attitude was not acceptable.

Earlier, sharing details of the rapid antigen testing set to start in the state for early detection and management of COVID-19 infections, Advisor (Health, Medical Education and Research) Dr KK Talwar said Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Mohali, and Patiala districts had been identified for the pilot. The test has a quick turnaround time of 30 minutes for results.

On finalisation of rates for private hospitals, he said two rounds of meetings had already been held with hospitals and another was scheduled for Monday, after which the rates can be fixed.

He further noted that even though the numbers and mortality figures for the state were lower than the national average and for many of the other states, the spread was worrying, with community resistance also being noted in certain areas of containment/micro-containment.

Pointing to the increased testing in the state, Dr. Talwar said 15 Truenat machines are operational at District Hospitals at Barnala, Bathinda, Fazilka, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Mansa, Moga, Sangrur, Muktsar, SBS Nagar, Ludhiana and Rupnagar. An order has been placed for another 15 such machines, which have a testing time of only 60 minutes.

Punjab’s mortality rate is currently 2.6 percent against India’s 2.8 per cent, the spokesperson informed, adding that 70.8 per cent of the COVID patients were asymptomatic, 14.7 percent mild, 8.8 percent moderate and 5.6 percent severe.

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