PESHAWAR: With the provincial capital witnessing a sharp increase in coronavirus incidence since the start of the second wave lately, its Covid-19 positivity rate reached 13.4 per cent on Saturday.
Physicians warn that colder weather, large marriage ceremonies, public meetings and non-adherence to precautionary measures will worsen the situation.
According to them, the second wave can become more dangerous than the first one during which fewer-than-expected coronavirus cases and deaths were reported.
Though the district administration has imposed smart lockdown in 21 areas of the capital city, the Covid-19 cases continue to spiral mainly due to the people’s failure to take precautionary measures and the lower temperatures, which cause respiratory infections rendering people vulnerable to the infection.
Experts call for complete lockdown in virus hotspots to prevent ‘disaster’
A World Health Organisation report released on Saturday revealed that Peshawar had the second highest coronavirus positivity rate among 15 high-burdened cities of the country.
Muzaffarabad topped the list with 24.9 per cent positivity rate.
The doctors declared the coronavirus incidence in Muzaffarabad negligible compared with Peshawar’s, saying 1,150 suspected patients were tested in the capital of KP and only 233 in the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
A total of 202 Covid-19 patients are under treatment in Peshawar hospitals. That hospitalisation rate increased by around 50 per cent on Saturday compared with last week’s.
Also, the number of coronavirus patients on ventilator jumped from six a week ago to 18.
The doctors told Dawn that if the people didn’t take the virus seriously, its incidence could surge alarmingly unlike the summer season when the province didn’t witness severe virus outbreak.
Prof Ajmad Taqweem, a former staff member of the Lady Reading Hospital, said the pandemic had never gone away in the country and Peshawar had become a ‘reservoir’ of coronavirus from the summer season showing the new wave was strengthening.
“If the first Covid-19 wave starts with one case, the second starts with 50,000 cases, so the latter is naturally more severe. It’s the beginning and it’s worse [than the first one],” he said.
The doctor warned that hospitals would be unable to cope if the people ignored restrictions.
“We have to live with Covid-19 for the next six months or so and therefore, we should make adherence to coronavirus standard operating procedures part of our lives,” he said.
He warned that the new normal was that the people should stop hugging each other, shaking hands with each other and joining crowded places and should wear face masks and wash hands with sanitisers otherwise the virus was very much here to threaten their lives.
Another physician said colder weather had forced people to stay closer to each other than the hot summer season, while the drier winter air was very favourable for the virus to spread.
He said after the start of the wedding season, wedding halls holding parties and ceremonies were the main cause of the transmission of the infection.
“The second wave of Covid-19 has coincided with the holding of opposition rallies and protest marches attended by tens of thousands of people. Such gatherings will make things worse,” he said.
Dr Zubair Zahir, chairman of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Doctors Association, said the Covid-19 incidence had doubled across the country, including KP, in the current month and if the situation didn’t change, the hospitals would be left with no beds for new patients.
“We want complete lockdown in coronavirus hotspots otherwise the situation will slip out of our hands causing a complete disaster,” he said.
Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2020