Punjab government’s strategy of closing schools, restricting public gatherings and imposing smart lockdown is not proving fruitful as the coronavirus infection rate in the province is continuously increasing.
The number of new patients recorded in the province during the past 24 hours was 1,955, which is the highest figure during the ongoing wave of the pandemic.
The virus claimed 22 lives in Punjab on Wednesday. The provincial health department appears helpless in controlling the situation in several most populous districts. Violation of the health safety standard operating procedures (SOPs) is evident in markets and at bus stations.
Especially, there is no implementation of the SOPs at the entry and exit points of districts. According to commuters, there is scant checking of vehicles for implementation of SOPs, especially vaccination of travellers, at the entry points of the cities. Poor monitoring of implementation of SOPs is among major reasons of increase in coronavirus cases.
Efforts to check the spread of novel coronavirus appear to be faltering in the big districts, including Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Bahawalpur. The number of Covid-19 patients admitted to the hospitals is increasing. The number of deaths caused by the pandemic and new patients during the past 24 hours shows that smart lockdown and closure of educational institutions have proven ineffective in curbing the spread of the contagion.
The current coronavirus positive test ratio in the province is 8.2 per cent, including 11% in Lahore, according to the health department.
The situation in Rawalpindi appears alarming, as the infection rate in the district during the last 24 hours was 15%.
As many as 670 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Lahore on Wednesday.
Punjab government announced last week the closure of schools, colleges and universities from September 6 to 11 due to increase in coronavirus cases.
The government also imposed smart lockdown in 15 high-risk districts of Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Multan, Khanewal, Mianwali, Sargodha, Khushab, Sheikhupura, Bahawalpur, Gujranwala, Rahim Yar Khan, Gujrat, Sialkot and Bhakkar. It imposed restrictions on the business community to shut the markets at 8pm and observe weekly off days on Saturday and Sunday.
There is a ban on indoor marriage events, while outdoor parties was allowed till 10pm with up to 300 people. However, the number of patients is increasing despite the restrictions.
A health department official said while speaking to The Express Tribune, “We have raised voice in several meetings over non-implementation of the SOPs as the people are not following the restrictions and the local authorities ate doing nothing in this regard. No checking for SOPs is being carried out at the entry and exit points of districts and there are massive violations of SOPs in vehicles and bazaars.”The official said it appeared that there was no monitoring system for the performance of district governments. “
The government should realise that our actions and plans cannot succeed if the district administration will not support us,” he added.
Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Secretary Imran Sikandar Baloch said vaccination was the most important measure in the current circumstances, so all citizens above 17 years of age should be vaccinated against coronavirus. At least 406,961 people have contracted coronavirus infection in the province so far and 12,116 of them have died, including 22 in the past 24 hours.
There are 27,156 active cases of the disease in Punjab.
He advised people to follow the SOPs, avoid going outside without mask and attending public gatherings.
The number of coronavirus patients arriving in hospitals has increased substantially in recent days despite the restrictions imposed by the government.
Replying to a question, provincial health department’s spokesperson Syed Hammad Raza said, “What can we do when the people are not cooperating. We are making the maximum efforts at the government level. People cannot get petrol without vaccination and mask but along with such steps we need public cooperation.”
He said there was adequate infrastructure in hospitals and sufficient stock of vaccines but the government could not win the war without public support. He urged the people to follow the SOPs.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 9th, 2021.
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