Punjab sees peak of 4th Covid wave
Smart lockdown imposed in 11 districts as death toll rises
Punjab recorded the highest death toll in a day from Covid-19 during the fourth wave of the pandemic on Saturday as the number of patients infected by the virus continued to mount.
At least 52 deaths and 1,718 new patients of novel coronavirus were confirmed across the province. The data for the ongoing month showed a death toll of 672 and the number of patients at 320,96.
The situation in Lahore is particularly alarming with 10.4% positive coronavirus tests reported during the past 24 hours. The figure is higher than almost all other districts of Punjab. The provincial capital recorded 16 deaths due to Covid-19 and 744 new confirmed cases of the disease on Saturday.
In view of the situation and guidelines of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), Punjab government has imposed smart lockdown in the most affected localities of 11 districts.
However, the situation in the province remains alarming, especially in the most populous districts where the number of patients is continuously rising.
The data of the provincial primary and secondary healthcare department showed that Saturday was the deadliest day for Punjab so far during the fourth wave of coronavirus spread.
"At least 52 deaths caused by coronavirus were confirmed across Punjab during the past 24 hours, including 16 in Lahore. As many as 1,718 patients were confirmed as coronavirus positive in all 36 districts of Punjab and both the number of deaths and new patients were the highest for a day during the ongoing wave of the pandemic,” said Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Secretary Imran Sikandar Baloch.
He said Punjab had so far recorded 388, 297 cases of Covid-19 that had cost the province 11,757 lives since its outbreak.
He said there currently were 25,214 active cases of coronavirus in Punjab.
He added that the department had issued special standard operating procedures (SOPs) for various sectors to prevent the spread of the disease.
Baloch reiterated the request to citizens to avoid going outside their homes and follow the SOPs set by the government, including social distance. He said the citizens must also get vaccinated as it is the only solution to evade the risk posed by the virus.
A senior official of the health department said while speaking to The Express Tribune that the situation was not only alarming but worse than that experienced in Punjab during June and July last year.
He claimed that the Delta variant of coronavirus had spread in the province and the higher fatality rate was also being caused by it. The official said the government would have to take more effective decisions to cope with the situation.
On the other hand, the Punjab government imposed smart lockdown in the most affected areas of Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Multan, Khanewal, Mianwali, Sargodha, Khushab, Bahawalpur, Gujranwala, and Rahim Yar Khan districts.
The smart lockdown will remain imposed till September 15, during which markets will be closed at 8 pm in the districts. The markets will remain shut on Saturday and Sunday, while there will be a ban on indoor marriage functions. There will also be a ban on indoor religious and cultural activities.
When contacted health department spokesman Sayed Hamad Raza said, "The situation is critical but the department is doing best to counter coronavirus. Our focus remains on speedy vaccination of people, while we will also continue implementing our policy of smart lockdown.”
He asserted that the province’s hospitals had the required infrastructure and facilities for coronavirus patients.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2021.