PESHAWAR: The health department has alerted all district health officers to enforce smart lockdown in the areas inhabited by Covid-19 patients to prevent transmission of Omicron variant of the virus.

A report of health department said that with newly-diagnosed patients, the province’s tally of cases reached 182,619 while fatalities due to the virus were 5,965 as two more persons, one each from Swat and Kohat, succumbed to the pandemic on Tuesday.

Of the infected people, 175,497 (96 per cent) patients, including 40 recorded during the last 24 hours, have recovered from the infectious ailment. The province has 1,157 active cases currently.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recorded 239 patients on October 10 after which the infection continued to decline but the upsurge in patients on Tuesday can be attributed to spread of Omicron variant, according to officials.

Two more fall prey to coronavirus in KP

They said that so far 200 positive samples of patients from different districts were tested for Omicron and the new variant was detected in 108 (54 per cent) of them. They added that Omicron was replacing Delta variant of the virus.

“We believe that most of the coronavirus cases are Omicron. Therefore, we are enhancing testing along with taking preventive measures at the district level,” said officials. They said that Omicron was widespread in the province as Peshawar, Nowshera, Malakand, Charsadda, Karak, Khyber, Mansehra, Haripur, Dir Upper, Swat, Dir Lower and Hangu reported cases of the new variant. The confirmed patients included 67 males and 41 females aging between 20 years to 60 years, they added.

Officials said that health department asked the public health reference laboratory at Khyber Medical University, where Omicron tests were conducted, to enhance testing to get a clear picture with regard to the new variant of the virus.

They said that mostly, the new cases were Omicron. They added that all the district health officers (DHOs) had been directed to increase sample collections up to 15 samples from close contacts of the positive patients in their respective areas.

Home quarantine has strictly been implemented for all positive cases of Covid-19, including Omicron, and currently 850 patients have been isolated throughout the province.

Officials said that as per directives of National Command and Operation Centre, the districts were sharing all information with the health department and a comprehensive report was presented in the meeting by the chief secretary.

They said that relevant DHOs sent the list of positive cases to the deputy commissioners for ensuring home quarantine till full recovery of the infected people. In addition, smart lockdown strategy was put in place for areas where cluster of cases were found to disrupt transmission of the virus.

The DHOs suggest to DCs for micro smart lockdown including barricading a street in a township. The matter of concern is Peshawar, which has recorded about 50 per cent of the Covid-19 cases in the province since advent of the pandemic in early 2020. It is also atop of Omicron-infected patients in the province.

Officials said that the provincial capital recorded 52 infections, (48.19 per cent) of the total 108 Omicron cases detected in the province so far. The department in collaboration with the district administration focused on Peshawar, the most populous city of the province with thousands of people coming and going out every day, they said. They added that government already announced Covid-19 restrictions in Peshawar.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2022

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