PESHAWAR: Two more people died of coronavirus and 70 tested positive for the virus in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Friday as the authorities are set to enforce the new strategy of micro smart lockdown meant to target only specific locations affected by the pandemic.
The health officials say micro smart lockdown has been recommended by the National Command and Operation Centre as Covid-19 deaths and cases in the province totalled 1,238 and 35,091, respectively.
Meanwhile, the province reported 56 Covid-19 recoveries taking the number of the patients, who have recovered from the virus, to 32,373.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has only 1,480 active virus cases.
Health secretary Syed Imtiaz Hussain Shah told Dawn that the government had directed all district administrations to enforce micro smart lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
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“Wherever there are some positive [coronavirus] cases in close clusters and the dashboards of deputy commissioners show them, certain houses or a multi-storey building will be locked down and not the entire street,” he said.
The secretary said the successful enforcement of the smart lockdown strategy had reduced virus cases.Officials at the directorate-general (health services) said the new plan was being implemented to check the transmission of the virus from affected houses to neighbourhoods.
They said a steep decline in the coronavirus incidence had been reported in the recent weeks but that couldn’t be a source of joy as the virus was still around but couldn’t be detected appropriately due to fewer testings.
The officials said previously, the province had seen a complete lockdown in cities with more cases but that caused economic hardships for the people, especially shopkeepers and daily-wage workers.
They said the smart lockdown strategy reduced cases and enabled people to continue routine work as it was enforced in the areas, which recorded 1.5 cases per 1,000 population.
The officials said the health department would recommend houses for micro smart lockdown to DCs.
When contacted, Peshawar deputy commissioner Mohammad Ali Asghar said the administration hadn’t received any directives about the micro smart lockdown.
“We will enforce the new strategy [against Covid-19] on the government’s directives. We have achieved good results from smart lockdown strategy in Peshawar in the shape of declining Covid-19 cases,” he said.
The DC said the district administration was constantly monitoring the pandemic-related matters in collaboration with the health department.
Senior physician Prof Khalid Mahmood of the Lady Reading Hospital said he was expecting an increase in Covid-19 incidence after the Independence Day celebrations and inauguration of the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transport as the people ignored social distancing advice.
He, however, said if the number of cases didn’t increase, the Ashura processions and congregations won’t bring about a surge in virus incidence.
About the micro smart lockdown strategy, Prof Khalid said it was enforced in the early period of pandemic as the government sealed the street or the house, where cases were reported.He said the virus had already affected more than 30 per cent of the population across the country, so the only way to slow down the spread was to enforce infection prevention and control through social distancing, face mask and hand hygiene, especially in closed spaces like mosques, theatres, schools and bazaars.
Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2020