PESHAWAR: The health department made Covid-19 testing mandatory for patients before hospitalisation or undergoing surgeries as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recorded three deaths due to the virus for the first time during the current year in a single day.

A notification issued from the office of director-general health services on Tuesday said that each and every patient requiring admission in hospitals must be subjected to Covid-19 testing in view of the increasing positivity reported during the last couple of weeks.

The notification circulated to all medical teaching institutions, district headquarters hospitals, district health officers and medical superintendents also showed concerns over the low number of tests for Covid-19 and instructed them to enhance sample collection to ascertain true picture about prevalence of the infection in the province.

It said that average positivity of the virus remained 4.7 per cent over the past one week while the infectivity level in some districts was 10 per cent, which was alarmingly high. However, it said that high positivity could be also attributed to low testing in the province.

Province records three deaths in a single day due to virus

Asking for enhancement of sample collection, the letter said that at present on average only 1.3 contacts were traced for each positive patient, which was far below than the national guidelines that recommends that samples should be taken from 10 to 15 close contacts of a confirmed patient.

To know the exact scenario regarding Covid-19 positivity across the province, all the relevant officials have been directed to increase number of contact-tracing in their respective areas in line with the guidelines of National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC).

The letter said that it was decided at the highest level that patients should be admitted to hospital only after they underwent Covid-19 testing.

It said that people with respiratory problems and their attendants should also be screened for the virus to put brakes on the spread of the pandemic in the province. It said that all patients, who got hospitalised for all sorts of surgeries, should be tested. It added that all details of positive patients should be shared with the authorities.

Meanwhile, the province’s mortalities due to the pandemic rose to 6,339 with three new deaths recorded at Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar.

All the three deceased were above 65 years and had underlying health conditions.

A health department report said that 72 new patients were detected during the last 24 hours, making the province-wide tally of infections 222,539.

Of the affected people, 215,479 patients, including 70 recorded during the last 24 hours, have recovered.

Currently, there are 721 active patients in the province including 379 in Peshawar, the epicentre of the virus, which has recorded half of total deaths and cases in the province.

Officials said that 2,593 tests were conducted in the province. They said that the department wanted to process at least 7,000 samples on average per day to be able to know the presence of virus.

They said that the low number of tests was a matter of concern because it created doubts about the existence of the pandemic. If a district processes 10 samples and half of them turn out positive, it means positivity in that district is 50 per cent.

“Already, we have established over a dozen PCR laboratories in different districts that are capable of conducting more than 500 tests per day,” said officials.

The health department has enough quantity of Universal Transport Media (UTM), a tube which contains preservative to transport nasopharyngeal swab to reference laboratory safely. Without UTM, samples are not accepted by PCR. Besides, Rapid Antigen Test is also available abundantly.

“This test is conducted in all hospitals and in field or homes, bus stands, stadiums and tourist spots which gives result within 10 minutes,” said officials.

Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2022

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