Punjab health ministry report confirms Lahore as an epicentre of coronavirus

No disease free areas in Lahore

Here is a classic example that how our system works. When PTI formed the government in Punjab after the 2018 general elections, we were told that top priority will be to improve the governance and to introduce reforms in the key sectors to increase the efficiency.
It seems that nothing has changed in last 21 months.  Primary & Secondary Healthcare Department Punjab send a summary containing chilling figures regarding the spread of COVID-19 infections in Lahore. According to this report, the total number of people infected from coronavirus could be around 6, 70,000 (nearly 0.7 million). This report was sent on May 15 to Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar and relevant departments for information and their views.
One expects immediate action on such an important report from concerned departments and officials. But concerned officials showed callous and indifferent attitude. This attitude is the hallmark of our highly bureaucratic system. 
We know very well that our health system cannot coop with high number of patients. We have limited health resources both in terms of financial and human resources. Our health system has already stretched to its limits. If thousands of patients started to arrive at hospitals with infections then our health care system will simply collapse. We need to avoid this situation.   
Captain (retd) Muhammad Usman, Secretary, Primary & Secondary Healthcare Department said that the summary forwarded to the chief minister on May 15   contained results of samples collected from hotspots, residences and offices in Lahore.
 As per the summary, 6% of the total samples collected tested positive for COVID-19. In some towns, samples' results stated that 14.7% of the samples came back with positive results. The report said that there wasn't a single area in Lahore where the infection had not reached.
The report confirmed that Lahore has become the epicenter of coronavirus infections in Pakistan. Lahore which was known for its festivities, cultural,political and literary events and activities now in the grip of coronavirus. It is a fact but sad one. 
Members of the Technical Working Group — who carried out the exercise in the city by collecting samples to see how fast the disease can spread in the city— have recommended imposing a complete lockdown in the city for four weeks and quarantining persons aged above 50 years. The group has also advised the government to declare it essential for people to stay inside their homes and not venture out unnecessarily. 
"Any subsequent decision of lifting, relaxing or doing away with lockdown measures should be taken after reviewing the results of smart sampling conducted with regular intervals till the final tapering down of the virus."

The report had revealed that no workplace and residential area of any town of Lahore is disease free. Analysing the data from various hotspots including workplaces and residential areas, the summary noted "a worrisome picture of Covid-19 prevalence" in communities, with 5.18pc infection rate for RTS and 6.01pc for SS.
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After these exercises, the report said, it could be estimated that Lahore, which has a population of over 11 million, has around 670,800 coronavirus cases. But as of June 1, the entire Punjab province has officially reported just 26,240 infections and 497 fatalities.
Elaborating on the findings for the testing carried out in the provincial capital, the summary stated that six per cent of all those who were tested turned out positive for Covid-19, while some towns showed a positivity rate as high as 14.7pc.
"These cases being asymptomatic could not be reported to health facilities, but became the main source of infection and local transmission," the report said.
Primary & Secondary Healthcare Department Punjab has done hard work to carry out the survey and then report based on the analysis of data collected. But Punjab government failed to take action on the report.

It is really surprisingly that despite having this alarming report with chilling figures, the Punjab government allowed to open the markets for Eid shopping. It is really disturbing to know that Punjab government simply ignored the alarming findings and recommendations of the report prepared by its own department. 
The government made SOPs for shopping but hardly anybody cared about it. The social distancing SOPs were widely flouted and people rushed to markets.
Now it is time that Punjab government should take this report seriously and take measures and actions to save the lives of people. It should start conducting the corona tests in high infected areas. Strict measures needed to be taken to stop the spread of infections.
We all wanted to return to the normal life. We all wanted to see our economy growing again and providing jobs and livelihood to people. We all wanted to go out shopping, dine at a restaurant and sit with family and friends.
But it will not happen without containing and controlling the infections. If virus continue to spread In Lahore and people continue to die as the result, the government will be forced to impose strict measures to contain the spread.  
                                                          The Editor  

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