Veritable signs of coronavirus resurgence in Punjab

Published October 26, 2020
In this file photo, people stand in circles drawn with chalk to maintain safe distance outside a bank in Lahore on March 30. — Reuters/File
In this file photo, people stand in circles drawn with chalk to maintain safe distance outside a bank in Lahore on March 30. — Reuters/File

LAHORE: The coronavirus resurgence due to the constant rise in the number of cases rings alarm bells in Punjab.

The second wave is said to be worse than the initial spread of the disease the world over. Strict observance of the SOPs is the key to fend off the second wave of coronavirus but the situation on ground presents an altogether different situation as there seems to be negligence by a majority of people.

In the last 24 hours (Sunday), 210 new coronavirus cases have been reported in Punjab after the number crossed the triple figure just a few days ago. There was one death, four critical patients and 10,790 suspected cases. By late Friday, the new confirmed cases were 214 and five deaths were reported.

The coronavirus positivity has increased three times compared to that in two months ago. “The three-day rolling average of coronavirus positive cases in mid-August had gone down to as low as 0.4 per cent but now it is touching increasing levels of two per cent,” says a senior health department official.

With the continuous increase in confirmed coronavirus cases on a daily basis, it is learnt, the number of admissions to hospitals has also increased three times amid fears of encumbering of the healthcare services in hospitals.

Govt claims it is trying to bring people out of complacence

The Punjab government was able to control the coronavirus pandemic by taking various strict measures such as closing all mass assembly places including markets, shopping plazas, restaurants, educational institutions and shrines. Those measures had disciplined the masses with a sense that any lapse might lead them to contract the coronavirus.

After few months, the government was compelled to reopen all mass assembly places, though in phases. Health experts say the opening of educational institutions, public parks, markets, restaurants and shrines, Muharram congregations and allowing of mass public meetings has begun playing havoc just because the public is not complying with the laid down SOPs.

“Where there is strict observance of wearing masks like at shopping plazas, marriage halls, restaurants and banks, most people remove the masks and no one re-checks them,” another health department official said.

With the wedding season in full bloom, SOPs violation can be witnessed in markets, shopping plazas and in marriage halls. The opening of every mass assembly place sent signals that everything was under control and people became complacent in observing SOPs.

Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department Secretary Muhammad Usman acknowledged that the Punjab was in the middle of second wave of coronavirus pandemic that demanded that the masses should discipline themselves. He stressed that restaurants, marriage halls, shopping plazas, markets, shrines and other public congregations be monitored strictly for strict implementation of SOPs.

He said the recent Cabinet Committee on Coronavirus meeting felt the need to take drastic measures, if people continued violating the SOPs to contain coronavirus resurgence. In order to reduce public interaction, he said, the cabinet committee decided that government employees above 55 years as well as women attending offices should stop coming to offices and work from home.

He said smart lockdown was currently in place in 774 areas of Punjab while new SOPs had been prepared for marriage halls, educational institutions, markets, workshops and other workplaces.

Corona Heroes: Governor Chaudhry Sarwar on Sunday unveiled the Corona Heroes Wall at Governor House to pay tribute to those who laid their lives as well as those on the front line to control the coronavirus pandemic in Punjab. A Quran Garden was also unveiled.

Speaking to the media on the occasion, the governor said the Corona Heroes Wall and the Quran Garden would formally be inaugurated by President Dr Arif Alvi on Tuesday (tomorrow).

He said the Governor House, in collaboration with charity organisations, could channelise charity worth Rs10 billion to provide ration to the needy, masks and sanitisers to the public and medical equipment to hospitals.

The governor explained that names of Prime Minister Imran Khan, army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Chief Minister Usman Buzdar as well as doctors working on the front line against coronavirus, officials of defence agencies and police had been inscribed on the heroes wall.

Responding to questions, the governor said the opposition parties should stop dreaming of overthrowing the government in December or January. Explaining PM Khan’s statement calling Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Maryam Nawaz children, the governor said the prime minister was not being sarcastic and that both were like children to him too.

He said only Mr Bhutto-Zardari could explain why he did not participate in Quetta’s public meeting. “If the opposition wants to talk about issues like inflation, governance and transparency of accountability, there is room for negotiation,” he said and regretted that the opposition unfortunately was not ready to talk about national issues.

The governor said the issues of inflation and governance were challenges that the country needed to deal with. The country needed unity, but the opposition was trying to create chaos and Pakistan could not afford such a situation, he remarked.

Mr Sarwar stressed the opposition parties should be careful regarding the spread of coronavirus during their public gatherings.

Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2020

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