Punjab health department has identified seven districts facing a risk of spread of the Omicron strain of coronavirus, with the highest number of patients confirmed n Lahore.
Official data shows that there are 319 Omicron patients in the seven districts, but as many as 306 of them are in Lahore.
Beside the Lahore, Omicron patients were confirmed in Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Sheikhupura, Sahiwal, Rawalpindi and Okara districts.
Overall, the fifth wave of the coronavirus pandemic appears to be rising continuously with 561 new patients confirmed by the health department on Monday.
Declaring the seven districts sensitive with respect to the Omicron risk, Punjab health department has advised the chief executive officers (CEOs) of their health authorities and the local administration officials to make maximum arrangements to avert spread of the coronavirus variant in the province.
Sources in the Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department said Omicron was speedily spreading in the province.
They said seven districts of Punjab had confirmed Omicron patients and the department had declared them at risk in this regard.
"The primary and secondary healthcare department has compiled the relevant data of Punjab and confirmed that Omicron has reached seven districts of the province. Lahore is the most affected district that is in grip of Omicron," a senior official of the department told The Express Tribune.
The official said there was one Omicron patient each in Bahawalpur, Faisalabad and Okara, two in Sheikhupura and four each in Sahiwal and Rawalpindi in addition to the 353 in Lahore.
Of them, 20 new Omicron cases were confirmed during the past 24 hours in Lahore and four in other districts.
The official said emergency steps should be taken in Lahore to cope with the situation.
He said imposition of 'smart lockdown' might be considered if the situation worsened.
"We have also issued special preventive SOPs for various sectors while keeping in view the situation," the official added.
Announcing the confirmation of 445 fresh coronavirus patients during last 24 hours, Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Secretary Imran Sikandar Baloch said there were 6152 active cases of the disease in the province.
He said the virus had claimed one life in Punjab on Monday.
The official said 353 coronavirus patients were confirmed in Lahore and 58 in Rawalpindi.
The ratio positive coronavirus test results in Punjab was recorded at 7.2. However, the rate in the provincial capital was 7.2%.
The provincial secretary stressed that the citizens should follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to avoid transmission of the virus, especially wear face masks, because the situation now was alarming.
"We are trying to vaccinate all people above 12 years of age in Punjab," he said.
The official said 449,225 people of the province had contracted the virus so far, of whom 429,793 had recovered. The disease has claimed 13,080 lives in Punjab, said Imran Sikandar.
The provincial department's spokesperson Sayed Hamad Raza said a higher number of Omicron cases had been confirmed in the province in recent days.
"It is also a dangerous variant because it spreads rapidly and only vaccination and precautionary measures can keep the people secure from it," he said.
The spokesman said the citizens should act responsibly and follow the SOPs to avoid lockdown.
"Punjab government has enough resources available in hospitals to treat the Omicron cases," the spokesman asserted.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2022.
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