PESHAWAR: The coronavirus case fatality rate is constantly on the decline in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially in Peshawar, which accounted for 20 per cent of the countrywide virus deaths two weeks ago.

The CFR in Peshawar is 1.5 per cent compared to Karachi’s 5.32 per cent, Islamabad’s 4.08 per cent, Quetta’s 3.03 per cent, Multan’s 2.63, Lahore’s 2.62 per cent and Rawalpindi’s 1.63 per cent.

The fatality rate in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is 3.6 per cent against the countrywide 2.8 per cent.

A fortnight ago, it was over six per cent.

Also, a 50 per cent decrease has been recorded in new coronavirus cases during the last two weeks.

KP also records 50pc decrease in new cases over two weeks

However, officials in the health department say any relaxation could spell disaster and that its main focus was on scaling up public awareness.

According to them, half of the Covid-19 beds lie vacant in Peshawar’s Hayatabad Medical Complex, Lady Reading Hospital and Khyber Teaching Hospital and Abbottabad’s Ayub Teaching Hospital due to fewer admissions.

Officials said the hospitals were filled to capacity after Eidul Fitr when the people failed to adhere to social distancing guidelines and didn’t wear face masks causing the infection to spread.

“We are planning to strengthen awareness drives in all cities, especially in Peshawar, Kohat, Abbottabad, Mansehra and Swat, to contain the virus and ensure that the province doesn’t experience the peak like it after Eidul Fitr,” a senior official said.

According to him, KP has been witnessing decline in collection of swabs for Covid-19 testing but despite that there has been a decline in confirmed cases suggesting that the situation is under control.

“The smart lockdown strategy was adopted by the government to seal the areas, which are hotbeds of Covid-19 cases, but the main strategy is creation of awareness among people about the causative agents of the infection,” he said.

The official said the ‘positivity of swab’ in Peshawar and Swat was eight and seven per cent respectively, which was a good sign.

He, however, said the province couldn’t afford any laxity especially during the upcoming Eidul Azha.

“The home department is working a plan to ensure that the people adopt physical distancing measures during animal markets and also during Eid in which the people meet each other’s as part of religious and social traditions,” he said.

The official said not only was there reduction in cases, deaths and hospitalisation due to the Covid-19 but the ratio of recoveries had also increased during the last two weeks.

“We are engaged in serious of planning on clinical and precautionary sides to make sure that the ongoing momentum is maintained and the virus is managed specifically,” he said.

The official said very petty measures could make a difference.

“For example, we are asking the people to avoid hand shaking and embracing one another and avoid visiting the houses of friends and relatives during Eid to prevent the pandemic,” he said.

The official said the smart lockdowns would continue to be imposed in the areas, which were reporting 1.5 cases per 1,000 population as the policy had proved beneficial than complete lockdown in which the whole cities were sealed.

Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2020