PESHAWAR: The health department continued to send samples of Covid-19 positive patients for genome sequencing in view of the threats of new variants as a five-year-old boy died of the virus at a private hospital on Tuesday.
The death of an unvaccinated boy, who was also suffering from blood cancer, is the first mortality due to the pandemic in the year 2023 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, according to officials. The last death due to coronavirus in the province occurred on December 6.
They said that the child had been hospitalised for the past 21 days and passed away due to comorbidity and non-vaccination.
A report of health department said that six more Covid-19 infections were reported during the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of patients to 224,918 since the onset of the pandemic in the province. A total of 6,375 persons have died of the virus so far. However, officials said that about 70 per cent people, who died of the virus, were suffering from other ailments, including kidney, heart and diabetes, etc.
Officials say no case of new variant of virus found in KP
“The people suffering from other diseases must get vaccinated to stay safe from Covid-19 as those having chronic ailments are more exposed to the infection. The province has abundant stock of vaccine, which is being administered to the people free of cost by trained health workers in health facilities,” they said.
They said that they were sending every positive sample for genome sequencing to Public Health Reference Laboratory at Khyber Medical University for detection of new variants. However, they said that no new variety of the virus was found in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa so far. The health department has been keeping an eye on the passengers at Bacha Khan International Airport, especially those having travel history to China.
Officials said that in early 2020, the province received first few cases from China and Iran that later spread to other people. “Given the past experience, we are taking extreme care to safeguard the population. The surveillance at entry points to the province from Afghanistan has also been strengthened and the suspected patients are being screened and samples are being sent for Covid-19 PCR. At least two per cent of the people at the airport and Afghanistan border are subjected to mandatory testing as per guidelines of the federal government,” they added.
They said that the government was in the state of high level of preparedness and health workers were alerted for rapid identification, detection and isolation of potential cases to put brakes on further spread of the virus. They added that the people deported from any country were screened because of the emergence of new variants of the virus in many countries across the globe.
Officials said that although the government had lifted the Covid-19 emergency and adherence to social distancing measures as wearing face mask and washing hands were no longer compulsory, yet the people should take precautions because the virus was still there and could re-emerge with more severity.
They said that respective district health offices near the airport and Afghanistan border areas were instructed to coordinate with the staff and ensure that suspected people underwent screening.
Officials said that people should continue to take precautions unless the World Health Organisation announced that the pandemic was over. “The bed capacity is enough to deal with any emergency situation. The officials deployed at points of entries to Peshawar and Torkham have been informed and alert is issued by border management and health department,” they added.
Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2023