Shafaqna Pakistan: This week, Punjab’s test numbers for the novel coronavirus registered a noticeable decline, but officials say the reduction is due to a change in policy and not caused by a decline in testing capacity.
In a press briefing on Friday, officials of Punjab’s Corona Expert Advisory Group, formed for decision-making about the virus, told reporters that the province can carry out 17,320 tests daily at the moment and this capacity will further rise by 1,000 in July.
Despite the capacity, Punjab recorded its highest daily tally of tests, 11,739, only on one day, June 17. After which, test numbers in the province have been on a downward spiral, dropping as low at 7,731 this week.
Nabeel Ahmed Awan, secretary at the ministry of specialised healthcare in Punjab, told Geo.tv that one reason for the recent reduction in testing was that the province has stopped testing incoming passengers.
“After testing flights, we found the positive rate to be less than 1%,” he said, “Looking at this rate, we realised that it was just a waste of resources.”
Another reason, he added, was the reluctance of citizens to be tested. “People were nervous about testing,” Awan explained, “Most people didn’t want to take the test. After seeing this situation, we decided to test only those who have symptoms.”
The Group also told reporters that Punjab is continuing to conduct random sampling in areas that are under smart lockdown in the province and commercial markets, such as the Liberty Market and Anarkali in Lahore.
“Random sampling is being done in two ways,” an official of the Group explained. “Samples of 300 each are being taken in crowded markets and the same strategy is also adopted in smart lockdown areas.”
As for the decline in cases in the province, the secretary added that it was too early to comment on that.
“When the Corona Expert Advisory Group begins its day, the first thing we discuss is whether this [decline] is a real shortage or an artificially induced shortage,” he said. “According to epidemiologists, this is a real shortage. But for a complete and final answer, we will have to observe conditions for a few more days.”