PESHAWAR: Following a jump in Covid-19 incidents, the National Command and Operation Centre has intensified efforts with a rise in weekly meetings with the provinces as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa struggles to cope with high swab positivity ratings in Mansehra, Chitral and Peshawar.
“For the past two months, NCOC Covid-19 has held one meeting a week with Chief Secretaries of all provinces, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, but now the number of meetings has risen to four, where officials discuss their plans and take orders,” officials said.
According to them, Dr Kazim Niaz, Chief Secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is now conducting meetings with NCOC every Thursday, Friday and Monday, shedding light on the condition of the province with regard to Covid-19 and advising participants of the steps being taken to deal with the situation.
The government’s new policy is to shut down hotspot areas in which the chief secretary provides orders to the home department on the health department ‘s advice to place a brake on virus transmission.
NCOC and health dept expedite efforts to deal with surge in cases
Around the same time, instructions to enact smart lockout and province-wide commitment to basic operating procedures are given to district administration in high-risk districts.
We have reported a high infectivity rate of nine per cent in Chitral, seven per cent in Mansehra and four per cent in Peshawar. As more focus is paid to increasing the degree of monitoring and finding positive patients, isolating them and tracing their connections, these areas have been highlighted, said officials.
They said that over the past week, the Public Health Reference Laboratory at Khyber Medical University reported 4.5 percent sample positivity, which was a cause of concern.
They said that 8,100 suspicious patients were examined by the laboratory over the past week.
They added that KMU completed an average of 1,150 tests each day, most of the 4,000 tests performed province-wide at 12 Covid-19 public health laboratories, and efforts were ongoing to increase research.
Officials said that the situation in Kohat, Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan was healthy where the rate of positivity was below 2%, but the authorities concerned were still ordered to scale up the testing power.
They said that the health department released guidelines to the related districts after the separation of positive cases after collecting total results from the laboratories. In Swabi, Mardan, Abbottabad and Swat, in addition to the three high-risk districts, the department was also in regular communication with district health officers to assess the situation and take necessary action, they added.
“NCOC is highly worried about the breach of the Covid-19 code of ethics and requires SOPs to be strictly enforced by district governments to handle the second phase of contamination that is more harmful than the first,” said officials.
Covid-19 has now reserved 3,100 beds, including 400 for intensive care, 700 for heavy dependency and 2,000 for isolation beds, but the situation is under control. The overall occupancy rate is 10 percent, except for Hayatabad Medical Complex, where bed occupancy is 30 percent, but the number of Covid-19 admissions is rising, said officials.
They said the winter season was ideal for respiratory viruses and the coronavirus may be the same. It may have minor effects, however, and adaptation to regulation and protection of public health interventions is the real factor in the matter.
Officials said there was strong contact with individuals in winter when more indoor events with low ventilation took place. Children and young people may be elderly carriers in educational establishments, and most people neglect the current normal that involves rigid obedience to SOPs.
In spite of alerts by experts and government, people think it a natural circumstance as they do not wear masks and do not refuse handshakes and hugs. SOPs are the safest form of defence against Covid-19 before the vaccine arrives, they added
Published in Dharti News, November 9th, 2020