Alarm bells ringing as small Punjab districts report high positivity ratio

Published April 27, 2021
Army soldiers patrol on a street to implement new restrictions imposed in  Lahore on April 26. — Reuters
Army soldiers patrol on a street to implement new restrictions imposed in Lahore on April 26. — Reuters

LAHORE: Punjab’s districts of Okara, Vehari and Sahiwal reported the highest Covid-19 positivity ratio of 51, 41 and 35 per cent, respectively during the last 24 hours, raising an alarm that the virus is now spreading from major populated cities to the rural areas.

According to the official update, 12 districts recorded alarmingly high positivity rates during the last 24 hours, including Lahore 19.5pc, Rawalpindi 12pc, Faisalabad 11.5pc, and Multan 8.1pc, as well as the three reporting the highest count. The positivity rate of the province was 11.5pc.

Medical experts warned that the virus was spreading to small districts that were earlier reporting a meagre number of cases and deaths. They said the Punjab government would have to take measures to stop mass travelling of infected patients from big cities to the smaller ones otherwise the rural areas could explode with infections.

The official figures also showed that Lahore’s state-run hospitals were running short of beds, particularly in the intensive care units (ICUs), which contained ventilators. Data showed that the bed capacity at ICUs of Lahore’s seven major teaching hospitals had either reached 100pc or above 90pc.

Meanwhile, the death toll in Punjab reached 7,990 after 26 more patients succumbed to the virus during the last 24 hours. Moreover, 2,190 more people tested positive for the virus during the same period, taking the total number of cases to 290,788 in Punjab.

Lahore General Hospital will be getting 10 more ventilators in the next few days, according to a health department official.

Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid said the government planned to expand beds and other facilities for Covid-19 patients keeping in view the rapid surge in the number of infected people.

Chairing a meeting on the directions of Chief Minister Usman Buzdar here on Monday, the minister reviewed the emerging pandemic situation, capacity of the system and status of the available as well as required facilities.

Health Special Secretary Silwat Saeed, Additional Secretary Usman Khalid, Dr Salman Shahid, Prof Dr Mehmood Shaukat, Consultant Prof Dr Asad Aslam Khan, Prof Dr Saqib Saeed, and Punjab Institute of Cardiology Chief Executive Officer Prof Dr Saqib Shafi were also present in the meeting.

Ms Silwat Saeed and Dr Asad Aslam gave a presentation on the availability of beds, oxygenated beds and other facilities. “We are increasing the reserved beds for coronavirus patients at government hospitals. We are also increasing the number of ventilators and oxygenated beds due to the rising number of cases,” the health minister said.

She said the Punjab government was constantly in contact with the National Disaster Management Authority for the provision of more ventilators. “The oxygen stock and supply is adequate,” she said and appealed to the public to use face masks and follow other precautionary measures.

She further said the vaccination process in Punjab was under way as per target.

Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2021

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