PESHAWAR: With coronavirus claiming nine lives and infecting 979 people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Saturday, the provincial government has begun considering to impose a complete lockdown in 11 districts over surging virus positivity rate.
During a special meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre in the day, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and chief secretary Dr Kazim Niaz were advised to go for a complete lockdown in the province’s coronavirus hotspots over the failure of the two days weekly lockdown to pay off, officials told Dawn.
They said the NCOC had opined that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa should completely restrict movement in larger parts of areas recording a spike in coronavirus incidence unlike the smart lockdown being imposed in such streets only.
The officials said positivity rate for Covid-19 had reached above 24 per cent in Peshawar and Swat, which would go up further if a complete lockdown wasn’t enforced there.
Covid positivity rate surges past 24pc in Peshawar, Swat
They said the province’s overall positivity rate was alarmingly 11.9 per cent showing the people’s failure to take precautionary measures against the virus, especially social distancing.
The officials said the situation was so bad in Peshawar, Swat, Mardan, Swabi, Charsadda, Nowshera, Kohat, Abbottabad, Shangla and Bajaur districts that it called for a complete lockdown.
They said following the NCOC meeting, chief secretary Dr Kazim issued special directives to the commissioners to strictly enforce SOPs, especially in high-risk districts.
The officials said they were concerned about SOP violations in funeral and marriage ceremonies as well as in markets as the spike in cases could be tackled only through precautionary measures.
They said the third Covid-19 wave was proving to be very dangerous compared to the first two as cases, hospitalisations and deaths were on the rise.
Meanwhile, provincial minister Taimur Salim Jhagra and chief minister’s aide Kamran Bangash told a joint news conference here that lockdown was tightened to stem the spread of the virus.
They said there was no way to check Covid-19 transmission other than strict lockdown.
The minister said the people should cooperate with the government for SOP implementation.
The health officials said the number of beds in hospitals wasn’t sufficient in light of the influx of coronavirus patients.
They said the Khyber Teaching Hospital, Hayatabad Medical Complex and Lady Reading Hospitals had few unoccupied beds and therefore, the department had decided to add 15 more beds to Nishartabad Covid-19 Hospital and task the Police Services Hospital Peshawar and Children Hospital Charsadda with handling the seriously-ill patients.
“The number of beds in hospitals is being increased in Swabi and Mardan as well as both districts have recorded a spike in cases,” an official told Dawn.
He said the department officials would hold another meeting with the bosses of medical teaching institutions today (Sunday) to ensure provision of beds, oxygen and ventilators to coronavirus patients.
Meanwhile, a health department report said nine people lost life to coronavirus in the province during the last 24 hours with seven deaths being reported in Peshawar and one each in Swabi and Kohat.
It added that Peshawar recorded 380 Covid-19 cases, Haripur 82, Charsadda 79, Mardan 73, Swat 68, Nowshera 50, Abbottabad 46 and Kohat 21 in the day.
Meanwhile, the district administration of Peshawar arrested 38 shopkeepers, sealed 29 shops and fined 131 commuters for violating SOPs.
Deputy commissioner Khalid Mahmood asked the residents to follow SOPs to prevent action.
Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2021