Even as Punjab is battling severe second wave of Covid-19, the state’s case fatality rate (CFR) — a ratio of deaths to the total number of cases recorded — has the alarm bells ringing.

At present, Punjab has a Covid death rate of 2.80 per cent which is highest in the country and more than double the national figure of 1.29 per cent. Besides Punjab, only Sikkim (2.15 per cent) has a higher death rate in this regard.

In a big cause of concern, about 85 per cent of Covid cases in Punjab have been found infected with the UK strain of the virus, which is more contagious and virulent. While the state’s Covid positivity rate hit 7.7 per cent last week, Punjab has been reporting nearly 3000 Covid-19 cases on a daily basis now.

While Chief Minister Amarinder Singh blames “the casual and carefree attitude of Punjabis for the resurgence in cases”, health authorities maintain the CFR would be much lower if infected persons were reporting for treatment early.

“Late reporting to the health care facilities is the main reason for high CFR in Punjab. As per our analysis, 78 per cent people (with symptoms of Covid-19) keep waiting on their own for the symptoms to subside rather than go for a treatment,” Punjab’s nodal officer for Covid-19 Dr Rajesh Bhaskar told The Statesman over phone.

“Patients are little careless (when it comes to reporting Covid-19 symptoms). They treat it like normal flu and hope it will blow away without treatment. This is despite the fact sufficient health care facilities are available to accommodate the present number of cases. Only about 20 per cent of beds (reserved for Covid-19 patients in hospitals) are occupied at present,” he added.

From 4853 active cases in Punjab on 1 March this year, the figure for it has jumped to 25,855 in the state on 7 April. The number of deaths has also increased from 5,850 to 7,778 during the same period.

The state has reported 414 deaths in the past seven days between 1 April and 7 April. As many as 20,449 new cases have also been reported during the same period (1 April to 7 April).

Expressing concern at the high CFR rate, CM Capt Amarinder on Wednesday said many of these deaths are avoidable with timely treatment. Besides ordering for a massive public awareness campaign to motivate people to approach hospitals at early stages, the CM directed the health department to target vaccinating two lakh people per day.

Besides night curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m, there is a total ban on political gatherings in Punjab along with closure of educational institutions till 30 April.