The secret behind the sudden drop in number of new coronavirus cases being reported in Punjab has been revealed as journalist Amber Rahim Shamsi quoted Punjab Minister for Industries, Commerce, Investment and Skill Development Mian Muhammad Aslam Iqbal as saying that lab workers had been given Eid holidays, resulting in less testing.
After easing lockdown restrictions, Punjab has generously announced six Eidul Fitr holidays from May 22 to May 27, which means the rate of increase in the number of cases in Punjab started going down Friday as lab personnel, who had been working tough shifts since the outbreak began, started getting off work and heading home to celebrate Eid with their families.
The number of COVID-19 infections in Punjab, which increased from 13,914 to 14,584 from May 16 to May 18 and then 16,685 on May 20, stood at 18,455 on Friday with over a thousand cases being reported every day since May 17-18.
However, the same number on Saturday stands at 18,730 with an increase of just 275 cases — unlike what trends had suggested.
“It is true that labs have started working at a lower capacity that is leading to the number of cases going unreported as of yet,” a provincial health official told The Current on the condition of anonymity. They refused to comment on the government’s decision of allowing Eid holidays to lab personnel, but said it was a much-needed relief.
“Things will get back to normal and the testing capacity will be restored after… or maybe even during Eid,” the official added.
By the time this report was filed, the total number of coronavirus infections in Pakistan stood at 52,437 with 1,101 deaths. Sindh topped the chart with 20,883 cases, followed by Punjab with 18,730 infections, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) with 7,391 and Balochistan with 3,198. Islamabad had reported 1,457 cases while Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) and Azad Kashmir had 607 and 171 infections, respectively.