Tuesday December 07, 2021

Coronavirus pandemic Situation improving in KP’

August 01, 2020

PESHAWAR: After having suffered heavily from the coronavirus, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is now witnessing improvement in the situation as there is a considerable decline in fatalities caused by the viral infection and the number of new patients in the province.

In KP, the first Covid-19 patient was reported on March 16. The patient, Saadat Khan belonged to Manga town in Mardan. He had contracted the virus during his stay in Saudi Arabia where he had gone to perform Umra along with other villagers.

The man was rushed to the District Headquarters Hospital in Mardan where he was investigated by the local doctors. The members of WHO‘s surveillance team from Mardan visited the patient in his village and collected his swab.

It was a time when KP lacked Covid-19 testing facility and swabs of all patients used to be sent to the National Institute of Health (NIH) Islamabad. Saadat Khan tested positive and subsequently died in a few days.

The man was the first casualty of coronavirus in Pakistan. He had infected dozens of villagers, including his family members, neighbours and relatives as after returning from Umra, he had invited them to a grand dinner and met all of them.

The district administration took immediate steps and cordoned off the entire rural population for more than two weeks to restrict the movement of the villagers and prevent them from transmitting the virus to the people of the nearby villages.

However, like the rest of the country, the virus gradually spread to other districts in KP, but Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Swat, suffered heavy losses from the deadly disease.

The KP government had initially no plan to professionally counter the fast-spreading virus. Soon after the lockdown announced in the province, the first good development was when Chief Secretary Kazim Niaz felt the need for the testing facility for Covid-19 patients in the province.

The chief secretary arranged Rs100 million funds for Khyber Medical University to enable it to procure equipment and kits to launch the facility. The then KMU vice-chancellor, Prof Dr Arshad Javaid made arrangements and initiated coronavirus investigations.

Being the lone testing facility in KP, KMU started receiving swabs of patients from all over the province. Since it was the only lab for the entire province, patients were supposed to wait for four-five day for the results of their investigations.

The second lab was then established in the Hayatabad Medical Complex, followed by Khyber Teaching Hospital and the similar PCR labs were set up in Swat, Abbottabad, Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan and Mardan.

According to KP Health Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra, the first step they took was increasing the number of testing facilities. All other routine services were suspended in the public sector hospitals to carefully look after the coronavirus patients. He said KP faced a sharp rise in Covid-19 patients in May 2020, soon after Eidul Fitr. The government eased the lockdown in the last week of Ramazan to enable people to make shopping for Eid.

It backfired and there was an unprecedented increase in the number of positive cases as well as fatalities caused by the viral infection in mid-June and that started falling ever since. According to a data shared by the KP the Health Department, the daily average positive cases in the week of June 7th were 641 when compared to 190 on July 19 in KP.

So far 33,724 patients have been infected in the province, out of which 27,724 (82 per cent) have recovered. Similarly, there has been a decline noted in the number of fatalities in the second week of July. As per data, the average daily deaths have gone down from 19 in the week of June 14 to five in the week of July 19.

As per the official figures, the Health Department since June 17 recorded 68 percent decrease in the number of patients admitted to the intensive care units (ICUs) in all the public sector hospitals of the province.

Similarly, the number of ICU patients decreased by 58 percent and 83 percent in the hospitals in Peshawar and Swat districts, respectively. On Wednesday, July 29, KP had reported 121 new positive cases that took the total to 33,845. Also, six more people lost lives, three of them in Peshawar, two in Dera Ismail Khan and one in Karak, taking the total number of fatalities to 1,192 in KP.

Another 593 patients recovered taking the tally to 28,317. Similarly, the Health Department has noted an average of daily testing samples have gone down from 3,336 (peak) in the week June 14 to 1,846 in the week of July 19.

In KP, 208,304 tests had been done till July 29, but a vast majority of people still have no access to the quality of health services and investigations. There are also reports, which the government has turned down, that the number of tests had been decreased in KP, due to reasons best known to them.

If the lab is to be trusted, there is a considerable decline in the number of fatalities and positive cases in KP in July. However, the KP Health Department is clueless about the decline in the number of deaths and a decrease in positive cases.

“Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, cases in the province have gone down as a large majority of citizens have responsibly adjusted to the new normal. While our interventions have helped contain the spread of Covid-19 cases, further research is required to understand the current decline,” said Taimur Saleem Jhagra.

A senior physician, Prof Amjad Taqweem, confirmed that the number of positive cases has reduced and cited multiple reasons for that. “Virus has burned all the dry wood, the remaining are fully or partially immune. The heat has restricted people to home and sweat and smell has resulted in automatic social distancing,” Prof Amjad Taqweem opined.

Similarly, Prof Amjad said the number of tests had been reduced in KP and it could be one of the cause of the decline in positive cases. “The number of patients coming to hospitals and doctors reduced due to worldwide propaganda of conspiracy theories ranging from poisoning to 5 G by Bill Gates. And off course we understand disease better now and treat it better so morbidity, mortality and admission all reduced,” he said.

In KP, a vast majority of people used to avoid taking patients to hospitals during the peak of Covid-19 in KP, due to certain misconceptions they had associated with, suspecting that patients are being injected in hospitals and killed by the health workers.

This baseless propaganda had caused a huge loss to thousands of people in almost everywhere in KP, particularly in the rural areas. In the Swat district, educated people would avoid taking patients to hospitals, fearing that the doctors would kill them.

And for quite a long time, people had a strong belief that corona is cureless and therefore better to keep the patients at home. It would cause them serious complications and subsequently take their lives.

In KP, the Peshawar Division, comprises of Peshawar, Charsadda, Nowshera, Khyber, and Mohmand districts, suffered more human losses and recorded the highest number of positive cases than any division in the province. It has lost 643 people and reported 2837 positive cases.