LAHORE: An alarming situation looms as the provincial capital has reported 50 cases of Covid’s highly infectious and deadly Indian delta variant.
The report has alarmed the health authorities who have found that more than 70 per cent of the infections reported in Lahore are of delta variant. The health experts say the delta variant is more transmissible form of SARS-CoV-2 that has now reached 77 countries. They warn that it spreads rapidly and poses a serious threat to unvaccinated and partially vaccinated people.
A senior official of the health department told Dawn on the request of anonymity that the virus spread 100 times faster than those reported during the last three waves of Covid-19 in Punjab.
Sharing official statistics, he said the health experts processed a batch of 26 samples a few days ago in the reference lab of the Primary & Secondary Healthcare Department, Punjab. Of them, he said, 13 Covid samples tested positive for delta virus constituting 50 per cent ratio. They also put for analysis another batch of 22 samples and of them 14 were detected as the same variant which had wreaked havoc in the neighbouring country.
Health experts suggest 10-day Eid holidays, other steps to curtail virus
The official said that on Friday, out of 25 more samples, 23 tested positive for delta virus showing an alarmingly high positivity rate. He said the experts believed that the situation could go out of control in the next few days due to the fast spread of the infection and suggested immediate lockdown in Lahore.
They said the timings for commercial markets, theatres, shrines and other such places should also be revised to restrict the movement of the public. The official said most Covid samples were obtained from the patients visiting the state-run teaching hospitals of Lahore, Sialkot and Chiniot where they reported with typical symptoms of the delta variant.
“We should declare emergency in all the hospitals of the province to meet the new challenge of delta variant,” he said, adding that the health officials also recommended that the government should announce at least 10 official holidays on Eidul Azha to stop further transmission of the highly infectious virus.
Answering a question, the official said the experts were analysing in the lab the random Covid samples and result about the presence of delta virus in Punjab, especially in Lahore, was very disturbing.
Meanwhile, the official update released by the Punjab health department on Friday further set alarm bells ringing when the positivity rate of the infection in Lahore and Rawalpindi increased to 5.4pc. This is a high percentage reported many times during the peak season of the third wave of Covid-19 in Punjab during the last three months.
Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department Secretary Sara Aslam said the Covid infectivity rate increased to 4pc in Multan, 3pc in Bahawalpur and 1.7pc in Faisalabad. She said Covid cases were increasing at an alarming rate in Punjab and stressed the need to implement the standard operating procedures (SOPs) besides going for vaccination.
She said Punjab reported 364 new infections during the last 24 hours, taking the total number to 349,475.
“We have set up 118 mobile vaccination camps at the sites for the sacrificial animals’ sale across Punjab to facilitate the visitors,” she said. She said the health department had expanded the scope of vaccination in order to improve coverage in Punjab.
“We are vaccinating on average 350,000 people daily across the province to achieve the target set by the National Command Operation Centre,” she said. Covid claimed lives of four more patients in Punjab, taking the toll to 10,856, she said.
Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2021