Covid third wave intensifies in Punjab

Published March 15, 2021
A private security guard stands at the Data Darbar shrine of Sufi saint Syed Ali bin Osman Al-Hajvery, popularly known as Data Ganj Bakhsh, after the government closed the shrine as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus, in Lahore on March 14. — AFP
A private security guard stands at the Data Darbar shrine of Sufi saint Syed Ali bin Osman Al-Hajvery, popularly known as Data Ganj Bakhsh, after the government closed the shrine as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus, in Lahore on March 14. — AFP

LAHORE: Punjab on Sunday recorded more than 1,000 cases for the fifth consecutive day as the third wave of the novel coronavirus intensifies in the country.

The data available with Dawn showed that 1,653 new infections were detected in the province in the last 24 hours. The last time the province reported such a high number of cases was during the first wave on June 24, 2020, when it confirmed 1,655 infections. The province’s tally now stands at 185,468.

As many as 973 cases were reported in Lahore, 81 in Gujranwala, 76 in Sialkot, 73 in Rawalpindi, 14 in Sheikhupura, 30 in Jhelum, 12 in Hafizabad, six in Narowal, 66 in Gujrat, 30 in Mandi Bahauddin, 22 in Multan, two each in Chakwal, Bahawalnagar and Vehari, 96 in Faisalabad, 23 in Chiniot, nine in Toba Tek Singh, two in Jhang, 19 in Rahim Yar Khan, 22 in Sargodha, 27 in Khushab, 11 each in Bahawalpur and Sahiwal, one each in Pakpattan, Lodhran, Rajanpur and Nankana, 18 in Okara, eight in Dera Ghazi Khan, seven in Bhakkar and four in Layyah.

Meanwhile, the health department officials including District Health Authority Chief Executive Officer Dr Saddique Mastio and Wapda Hospital Lahore Medical Superintendent Dr Aamir Yaqoob also tested positive. The tests of 51 people who came in contact with these two officers were also conducted and their results were being awaited.

The provincial government has imposed a lockdown in seven high-burdened cities, restricting the movement of the people to their homes amid the rising cases, while “all types of commercial activities, establishments, markets and areas throughout the province of Punjab shall be closed by 6pm.”

The major lockdown will start on Monday (today) for two weeks in the seven cities after a gap of a year. During the first wave of the infection, the government had imposed a complete lockdown across the province in March 2020.

Punjab cities under lockdown are Lahore, Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Multan, Gujranwala, and Gujrat.

The Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department said a major lockdown had been imposed in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Multan, Gujranwala and Gujrat, restricting the movement of the people within these districts and outside them.

The restrictions during lockdown in the seven cities include a complete ban on gatherings of all kinds for social, religious, or other purposes at any place, public or private. All types of marriage and banquet halls, community centres and marquees would remain closed and a complete ban had been imposed on all kinds of indoor gatherings while outdoor gatherings would continue with an upper limit of 50 people.

The government also imposed a complete ban on indoor and outdoor dining and only takeaway and home delivery will be allowed.

VACCINATION: Denying reports on social media that elderly citizens could walk into Lahore’s Expo Centre to get vaccinated against the coronavirus without an appointment, Primary and Secondary Health Department Secretary Capt retired Usman Younis said the department was only offering coronavirus vaccination to the registered persons (60 and above) who had received pin code but some people accompanied their spouses who were not yet registered were also given the shot.

He said they were not asking the people to approach and get vaccine without registration but thinking about the age and travel to the spot for vaccination, they were administered vaccine shots on humanitarian grounds.

“We appeal to the people not to come to the spot without registration otherwise the smooth process of administering the vaccine would face hurdles,” he said.Mr Younis also tweeted: “While it is true that we don’t return people and we also provide walk in if one spouse is scheduled & the other isn’t. We process people as per schedule and if everyone starts turning up on their own, it will delay the ones in line. Please wait for the message.”

As many as 7,582 people above the age of 60 have been vaccinated across Punjab. A total of 88,974 registered health workers have been given the first dose, while 15,177 have received the second dose as well.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2021

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