Lahore bears the brunt of Covid wave
Province's daily death toll surpasses record for the fourth time in a month
As many as 107 people lost their lives to coronavirus in Punjab on Tuesday, including 54 in Lahore.
The figure was higher than the previous highest death toll in 24 hours since the outbreak of the pandemic of 104, recorded on April 20.
An official of the provincial health department said a variant of the virus from the United Kingdom was causing increasing deaths during the third wave of the pandemic.
For the fourth time during the ongoing month, the province's daily death toll surpassed the previous record.
The most alarming indicator was that over half of the deaths took place in Lahore. The earlier highest death told in a day in the provincial capital was 46, reported on April 20.
Punjab government has so far vaccinated about one million people against coronaviris, including front line health workers and senior citizens.
However, it has failed to bring the increasing infection and death rates under control in the province, including Lahore.
"Our major districts, including Lahore, are the worst affected where maximum patients have been confirmed in last two weeks and the death rate is also high," a health department official told The Express Tribune. He said the most affected districts also include Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Multan, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Gujrat and Sheikhupura.
The official said smart lockdowns had been imposed but the situation was like a complete lockdown as educational institutions were closed in 25 districts and there were restrictions on markets. But still the department is helpless as the fatalities were increasing to a shocking level, he added.
"We fear that the failure to bring the situation under control may lead to more danger to the citizens, especially in the last 10 days of Ramazan, when there will be more crowd in markets, and the Eid holidays'" he added.
The official said the situation would deteriorate if the district administrations and Punjab government failed to enforce the SOPs in the coming two weeks. The hospitals were almost full of patients, he added.
Health officials cited various reasons for the increasing death toll but agreed that the UK variant of the virus had proved dangerous senior citizens, especially patients of heart problems, blood pressure, asthma and diabetes.
"The data shows that people above 60 years of age ate suffering the worst during the 3rd wave. Most patients of this age group were brought to hospitals in recent weeks, while the death rate is also highest in this age group," Institute of Public Health's Dean Dr Zarafshan Tahir said.
"However, it does not mean that the UK variant is not dangerous for the youth and kids," she cautioned, adding that maintaining mutual distance and strict implementation of the safety SOPs was the most effective protection.
"The health department is doing its best but people are not willing to wear mask. The increased toll is also the result of our behaviour,," she said.
When contacted, health department spokesman Sayed Hamad Raza said,
"No doubt it is the UK's coronavirus variant in Punjab that has proved dangerous during the third wave and we are taking steps while keeping in view this factor.
He said the variant was more lethal and the people should strictly follow the safety guidelines.
The spokesman said, "We are implementing the SOPs and vaccinating about 30,000 people daily. Besides this we have improved infrastructure at hospitals in view of the situation.
He said the Punjab government was being updated regarding the situation and more lockdowns would be imposed in the worst-hit areas.
In the last 24 hours, at least 2,680 new patients of coronavirus were confirmed in government and private hospitals. As many as 1,306 new patients were confirmed in Lahore. More of the patients were emitted to the big hospitals of the province.
The total death toll from the virus in the province rose to 8,097, while 239,290 patients have defeated it.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 28th, 2021.