Relaxing lockdown, SOPs’ violation led to increase in Covid-19 cases: Punjab health official

Updated 15 Jun 2020

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Urdu Bazaar in Rawalpindi gives a deserted look on Sunday. — White Star
Urdu Bazaar in Rawalpindi gives a deserted look on Sunday. — White Star

ISLAMABAD: Violations of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the novel coronavirus before and during Eid holidays have changed the trend of cases in the federal capital.

Due to the increasing cases, the total number of patients in the capital has surpassed the figure of 8,000 and two sub-sectors of G-9 have been sealed.

Moreover, some more areas may be locked down in coming days as they also meet the requirements of declaring them hotspots.

However, the district administration also believes that the huge number of tests i.e. 80,000 conducted in the capital is also one of the reasons for the increased number of cases.

An official of the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS), requesting not to be quoted, said relaxing the lockdown before Eid was a major blunder due to which the trend of cases changed.

Says people visited hometowns for Eid and returned as virus carriers

“We were getting around 50 cases per day in the federal capital such as 44 cases on May 14, 55 on May 15, 26 on May 16, 50 on May 17 and 37 cases on May 18. However, the effects of relaxing the lockdown gradually became visible as cases started increasing a week after that step and jumped to 100 per day. For the last a few days, over 400 cases per day are being reported.”

He said during the Eid holidays people went to different cities and returned after spending holidays in their native cities as carriers of the virus.

“The number of cases reported in the four months is equal to cases reported in the last three weeks. The trends show that the situation will aggravate in coming days and we may have to seal some more areas. In G-9, per day cases were increasing and now we are getting same trends in I-10, G-10 and I-8,” he said.

However, focal person for Covid-19 in Islamabad and District Health Officer (DHO) Dr Zaeem Zia told Dawn that there were a number of other reasons behind the increase in the number of cases in the capital.

“We have conducted around 80,000 tests which is manifold higher per million population compared to other cities. Moreover, the number of tests per million population in the capital can be compared even with developed countries. Whenever more tests are held, more cases are confirmed,” he said.

Dr Zia said because of the tracing, testing and quarantining (TTQ) system, 350 to 400 tests were being done daily.

“Moreover, a large number of tests are held through public sector hospitals and private labs. There is a proper mechanism to declare every case and their record is maintained,” he said.

Replying a question, he said a smart lockdown was enforced in G-9 as cases were increasing in the sector.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat said arrangements had been made to provide edible items and other daily requirements at the doorsteps of the residents of G-9.

A mobile pharmacy has been established from where the residents can get medicines by calling at 0314-9512635.

Besides, mobile utility stores are also established and the residents can get edible and other items by calling at these phone numbers: 0349-0767556, 0349-0767556 and 0313-0210072,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2020