Despite the functioning of South Punjab Health Secretariat, testing facilities for corona’s Omicron and Delta variants are not available in the laboratories of the government hospitals of South Punjab, including Multan.
Nobody knows how many people in South Punjab have been infected with Delta or Omicron variants of the coronavirus.
So far not a single sample has been sent to Islamabad for testing.
It has become difficult to detect the Omicron and Delta variants among the residents of South Punjab due to lack of facilities in the laboratories of government hospitals even in Multan.
Due to poor performance of the Multan Health Department, so far no sample of a suspected corona patient in Multan could be sent to Islamabad for Omicron or Delta variant tests.
Meanwhile, no sample of patients visiting the Nishtar Hospital on suspicion of corona has been sent to Islamabad for further examination in the last one month.
For genome sequencing, even if a sample of a suspected patient is sent to the NIH, the patient will have to be hospitalized as a suspected patient until the corona variant is tested.
The National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) had warned last month that the new variant of the coronavirus, Omicron, was wreaking havoc worldwide, and it would eventually also affect Pakistan.
At a joint press conference with Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, the NCOC chief, Asad Umar, had said then that the country had had a few weeks to counter the threat posed by Omicron, which was first detected in the southern African region.
“Omicron, is wreaking havoc across the world, [and it] will also eventually affect Pakistan as well, but the country has a few weeks to counter the threat,” Umar had said.
“The variant has spread across the world and it will be impossible to stop it from entering Pakistan because the world is so inter-connected.”
Umar, also the planning minister, had urged the people to complete their vaccination doses in the wake of the “very dangerous” variant.
“The logical solution to thwart the new variant is full vaccination,” the minister had told the press conference in November.
Citing the example of South Africa, where the positivity rate rose from 0.9 percent to 9.77 percent in mere 12 days, the NCOC chief had repeated his call for vaccinating people aged 12 and above, and warned that after “the emergence of Omicron, there won’t be much time to tackle” the pandemic.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2021.