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Covid resurgence feared in KP over SOP violation

PESHAWAR: With Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recording 11 deaths from novel coronavirus, the highest in the current second wave of Covid-19 infections, the health department has warned that if the standard operating procedures notified by the government aren’t enforced strictly, the situation will turn out to be extremely dangerous.

“We [health department] have been persistently recommending to the National Command and Operation Centre in bi-weekly meetings the strict enforcement of SOPs warning if that doesn’t happen, the situation could go the June way when hospitals ran out of beds due to high incidence of the virus,” an official told Dawn.

He said people’s failure to adhere to precautionary measures was causing the spread of the coronavirus.

On Thursday, 11 people lost life to coronavirus and 345 were infected with it in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Virus claims 11 lives in KP, highest during second wave

The officials said it was the highest number of deaths reported in the province during the second wave of the virus.

They said they would repeat the proposal as the situation regarding the number of Covid-19 cases was worsening fast.

The officials said the health department was to conduct testing and provide care to Covid-19 patients in hospitals that it was doing but the main hurdle in that respect was non-implementation of SOPs, which was going to cause problems in near future.

They said the department was holding a meeting of technical people on a daily basis in which matters relating to Covid-19 came under discussion.

The officials said there was consensus that the government must enforce guidelines including social distancing, use of face mask and washing of hands to stop the transmission of the virus.

“We will raise the issue of SOP non-enforcement yet again in NCOC meeting tomorrow (Friday) asking authorities to make people adhere to precautions as it is the only way to prevent the resurgence of the infections,” an official told Dawn.

He said the government should impose penalties and seal shops, restaurants, wedding halls and other public places over SOP violation as they acted as virus transmission points.

“We hope that the NCOC will order the administration for strict SOP enforcement,” he said.

The officials said KP hospitals had 653 coronavirus patients in Peshawar and Abbottabad and 43 of them were on ventilator.

They said the hospitalisation of Covid-19 patients had gone up alarmingly during the last two weeks and therefore, SOPs should be enforced strictly to prevent the situation from further deterioration.

The officials said 5,440 beds had been fixed for Covid-19 patients in hospitals across the province but the beds were unoccupied in districts other than Peshawar and Abbottabad.

They said the second wave of coronavirus was more virulent than the first one and they feared that if the people continued to ignore SOPs, the hospitals would be overwhelmed with patients.

“Only with strict SOP enforcement, we can control the virus, which is hitting the people hard in Peshawar, Mansehra and Abbottabad,” an official said.

He said the health department was keeping an eye on the situation and was with the help of technical personnel giving recommendation to the government in that respect.

“We also want the government to impose penalties along with other actions in a way that doesn’t cause provocation among the people,” he said.

The officials said despite strictly directives against gatherings in restaurants and markets, the people didn’t care, so the Covid-19 cases could surge in coming days.

They said the health department had already enhanced the number of beds for Covid-19 patients in hospitals throughout the province and could consider suspending elective services in case of surge in cases.

The officials, however, said currently, prevention was much better than that option.

“We want the district administrations to enforce the preventive strategy on the pattern of March to May, which helped the province control the situation. Along with administrative approach towards the issue, we also want the government to scale up public awareness on emergency basis as the second wave could prove extremely dangerous in the absence of SOPs,” a health official told Dawn.

He said Peshawar had 10.1 per cent virus positivity rate as compliance to SOPs was next to zero.

The official said SOPs were non-pharmaceutical interventions, which played significant part in dealing with the outbreak of diseases.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has so far recorded 47,919 Covid-19 cases and 1,378 deaths.

A total of 42,411 (88.5 per cent) patients have recovered from the virus.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2020

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