LAHORE: Omicron, a new variant of Covid-19, is slowly but steadily appearing in Punjab, with linked fatalities and positive rates reaching worrisome levels.
“It is frightening in the sense that Punjab is reporting over 2,200 new positive cases daily on average, although 61 percent of the targeted population has been vaccinated,” a senior health department official told on Sunday.
He claims that such a high number of instances were documented in the province during the first and second waves of Covid-19 when vaccination was still in its early stages. The figures, he claims, suggest that either the immunisation is not having an effect or that the health staff are producing a lot of bogus entries.
According to official numbers, the province reported 1,600 new positive cases on March 15, 2021, compared to 1,600 new positive cases recorded in June 2020.
The Punjab government vaccinated over 51% of the target population for Covid in Lahore, yet the city still reports half of the province’s total positive cases, according to the official. He emphasises that the matter must be properly studied to rule out “false entries,” ineffective vaccination conditions, and other system faults.
At the request of the deputy commissioner (DC), he said the Punjab government donated 300,000 vials of single-dose vaccinations to the provincial capital authorities to boost vaccination coverage in the city. “Unfortunately, because of the lengthy procedure, the vaccination has yet to be provided, since the bureaucracy in the health department appears unconcerned with the sensitivity of the subject,” the official says.
In response to a query, he explains that the health department’s deputy secretaries (DSS) have been dispatched to different parts of the city to give the freshly arriving vaccination to the locals.
The DSS delegated door-to-door vaccination to the various deputy district health officers (DDHOs), who claim that most citizens were hesitant to be vaccinated at home, citing concerns about vaccine quality or fear of harmful medical reactions, among other factors.
According to the source, this hesitation may raise the likelihood of personnel creating false entries, as well as delay the vaccination procedure in Lahore.
According to government numbers released on Sunday, the virus’s infectivity rate has grown to 19.3 in Lahore, the highest so far under the fifth wave of Covid (new Omicron variant).
Similarly, Punjab’s positive rate has risen to 9%, while 12 critical Covid patients have died in the province in the previous 24 hours because of linked problems.
After Lahore, Rawalpindi came in second with a positivity rating of 16.3, followed by Bahawalpur with 12.5 and Faisalabad with 12.4.
Meanwhile, 2,212 additional persons in Punjab have tested positive for the virus in the previous 24 hours.
According to experts, Omicron accounts for 95 percent of all Covid instances, with the delta form accounting for most of the remaining 5%.
According to them, the current wave shows an increasing trend in recent cases, infection positive rates, and mortality as the disease’s burden grows in the province’s government hospitals. During the latest wave of Omicron, specialists claim Lahore, Rawalpindi, and Faisalabad were reporting most recent cases and deaths.
“We’ve seen an increase in the number of patients with shortness of breath (dyspnoea) or other respiratory problems, with most of them being older,” says a senior doctor at Mayo Hospital Lahore.
He claims that while Omicron was not lethal, the carelessness with which they handled elderly individuals during home isolation was generating difficulties and increasing the pressure on state-run hospitals’ high dependency and critical care units.
Official data revealed that 1,221 new positive cases were recorded in Lahore and 268 in Rawalpindi out of 2,212 new positive cases. Similarly, Faisalabad reported 126 new positive cases of the virus, Bahawalpur 101, Rahim Yar Khan 61, Gujranwala 46, and Sialkot 42. Smaller districts have also recorded cases.
A sharp increase in the positive rate in Bahawalpur has frightened health officials, who believe one reason is the city’s recent major tourism activity.