LAHORE              -          The smart sampling conducted by Primary and Secondary Health Department (P&SHD) has estimated that there are approximately 670,800 new coronavirus cases in Lahore, out of city’s population of 11.18 million.

P&SHD Secretary Captain Muhammad Usman, in a summary to the Punjab chief minister, has disclosed that the results have shown that six percent of all those who had been tested in Lahore were positive, with few towns showing positivity as high as 14.7 percent.

With the approval of the cabinet committee to combat threat from the coronavirus, the Punjab government had formed a Technical Working Group (TWG), consisting of consortium of epidemiologists, public health specialists, applied economists, statisticians and public policy specialists to assist in the detection of Covid-19 patients, determine the spread of the disease and to structure and guide its response towards its containment.

The TWG believes that these cases, being asymptomatic, could not be reported to the health facilities, but had become the main source of infection and local transmission. The experts have recommended that decisions regarding the hardening or softening of the lockdown cannot, and should not, be taken in isolation from various departmental viewpoints and other key stakeholders. The TWG conducted the exercise in two parallel sampling cohorts, firstly, Randomized Targeted Sampling (RTS) to determine the prevalence of the disease in those occupational sectors that remained functional during the lockdown, and secondly Smart Sampling (SS) as advised by the Working Group through the ‘S’ Grid Strategy to understand its community spread.

With the results of both sampling exercises pouring in, a worrisome picture of the COVID-19 prevalence in the communities is emerging i.e. positivity rate at 5.18% in RTS and 6.01% in SS (both by RT-PCR) respectively.

The data retrieved from various hotspots, including workplaces and residential areas, was comparable (5.18% vs. 6.01%).

The town-wise break-up shows a value of more than 3% for all towns, except Wagha Town and ranges between 2.11 to 9.33%, thereby, refuting the justification of zoning and smart lockdown.

This means that no workplace and residential area of any town is disease-free and, as such, entire Lahore exhibits an alarmingly similar transmission pattern. It is also notable that the most seriously hit age group is that of over 50 years.

As reflected in the international literature, highest mortality rate has been reported in the age group of 55 years or above.

Therefore, it is warranted that any such Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs), including decisions regarding the hardening or softening of the lockdown cannot, and should not, be taken in isolation from the departmental viewpoints and other key stakeholders.

It should, however, be necessarily articulated through larger consensus and based on evidence gathered through smart sampling and testing. These may include at least Transport Department, Social Welfare Department, Food Department, Labour Department, Home Department and Industries Department.

“It is therefore proposed that the analysis and recommendations of the TWG, along with the views of these departments, or any other department as well, if deemed fit, regarding the lockdown, shutdown, enforcement of social distancing, or opening up of particular sectors like transport, may be placed before the cabinet for a final decision,” recommended the TWG, and sought chief minister’s approval in this regard.

22 more die as death toll reaches 497 in Punjab:

As many as 22 more people succumbed to COVID-19 in Punjab on Monday, taking the death toll to 497. While at the same time as many as 1,184 new cases of the novel coronavirus were reported in the province, taking the number of these cases to 26, 240.

With 56 more healthcare providers getting infected with the virus during the last one day, the number of COVID-19 positive doctors, nurses and paramedics has now reached 400. The detection of a large number of positive cases during the recent random sampling in different localities of Lahore has set off alarm bells ringing for the healthcare providers who are afraid that millions of potential carriers of the pandemic are roaming in every nook and corner of the provincial metropolis. Estimating presence of the virus in more than 0.6 million Lahorites, the health department has warned that zoning and smart lockdown would not be a good option as infection was widespread and mostly evenly distributed.

So far 199 casualties have been reported from Lahore, 98 Rawalpindi, 52 Multan, 41 Faisalabad,  37 Gujranwala, 16 Gujrat, nine Sargodha, seven Bahawalpur, six Sialkot, five Rahim Yar Khan, three each from Sahiwal, Jhang, Muzafargarh and Toba Tek Singh, two each from Hafizabad, Nankana Sahib, Sheikhupura and Narowal and one each from Attock, Dera Ghazi Khan, Bahawalnagar, Khushab, Kasur, Jhelum and Rajanpur.

Out of total 26, 240 patients reported in Punjab so far, as many as 1,926 are preachers of the Tableeghi Jamaat, 768 Shiite devotees, who returned from Iran, 86 prisoners and 23, 370 ordinary citizens who mostly have fallen prey to local transmission.

So far 12, 881 Covid-19 patients have been reported from Lahore, 2,136 Rawalpindi, 1,677 Multan, 1,507 Faisalabad, 1,466 Gujranwala, 870 Sialkot, 799 Gujrat, 451 Sargodha, 425 Dera Ghazi Khan, 378 Sheikhupura, 364 Hafizabad, 304 Rahim Yar Khan, 280 Kasur, 232 Muzafargarh, 218 each from Jhelum and Bahawalpur, 198 Mandi Bahauddin, 178 Lodhran, 150 Vehari, 148 Khushab, 147 Nankana Sahib, 121 Narowal, 120 Sahiwal, 109 Bhakkar, 97 Bahawalnagar, 90 Attock, 81 Jhang, 79 Layyah, 65 Toba Tek Singh, 63 Okara, 58 Pakpattan, 54 Khanewal, 52 Chiniot, 47 Mianwali and 35 Chakwal.

As per spokesperson of Corona Monitoring Room at Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department, so far 2,39, 173 tests have been conducted in the province, which have helped in the detection of 26,240 cases. He further said that the highest number of cases had been reported from the age group of 16-30 years followed by the age group of 31-45 years.

The spokesperson said that lowest number of cases had been reported from the age group of 75 and above. He said that so far 7,021 patients had recovered and returned to their homes, 497 had died while 18,722 were isolated at their homes or under treatment at different quarantine centers and health facilities.