PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has sought support of tehsil municipal administrations to ensure testing of suspected coronavirus patients following drastic de-escalation in Covid-19 testing in the province, especially in Peshawar, Swat and Abbottabad, the most endemic districts.
“We need to tackle the public resistance to Covid-19 testing because this can prove a ticking bomb if we allow the contacts of the patients to stay untested,” officials told this scribe.
They said that home department and district administration were requested to help in testing of the suspected contacts of the patients. They added that staff of water and sanitation services firms was being engaged to help health department in ensuring tests of the contacts of the confirmed patients.
They said that government had taken notice of less testing because it was a serious issue. “We are also focusing on the mobile workers such as milk and vegetable sellers, who visit door-to-door. Similarly, we have to ensure to collect swab from at least 10 people in the locality where a positive case emerges,” said the officials.
They said that for the purpose they were working closely with home department and district administration to implement the national guidelines and ensure contact tracing for testing.
Officials say people’s unwillingness to undergo test is a ticking bomb
“There are at least four per cent patients in the family and the neighbourhood of a confirmed case but after the smart lockdown strategy, people are unwilling to give swab for laboratory analysis. The process of testing is totally voluntary and no force can be used. The main issue is that people are not cooperating despite knowing that refusing samples for testing is dangerous for their families and the people in the neighbourhood,” said the officials.
A recent report by the World Health Organisation said that Pakistan recorded a decrease of 29.33 per cent in Covid-19 tests, mainly due to the smart lockdown strategy adopted by the government under which the areas with high number of cases were closed. It said that during the last 12 days, the Covid-19 tests decreased from 31,681 on June 19 to 22,418 on June 30.
During the same period, the number of patients also showed decline of 37.41 per cent and went down from 6,604 to 4,133. Peshawar, which had the highest mortality rate a week ago in the whole country, came down to the fourth position due to fewer testing.
Since imposition of lockdown, there has been major decline in number of Covid-19 tests as well as patients. Officials said that people were reluctant to undergo testing for Covid-19 due to the fear of lockdown in their areas.
They said that the behaviour of public enhanced threat to the community where residents risked the pandemic. They added that people did not give swabs when the rapid teams visited their homes because they feared that more cases in the area meant closure of their localities which they did not want.
The WHO report also shows that Rawalpindi has 4.10 per cent case fatality rate (CFR), followed by Faisalabad with 3.48 per cent, Swat 3.23 per cent, Gujranwala 2.31 per cent, Multan 2.30 per cent, Lahore 1.74 per cent, Karachi 1.65 per cent, Hyderabad 1.58 per cent and Quetta 1.17 per cent.
Officials said that Peshawar maintained the highest CFR till June 22 but owing to less testing it was showing reduced CFR. “CFR is related to deaths and the number of confirmed cases in any district or province but positive cases have gown down in Peshawar due to less testing,” they added.
Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2020