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Delta variant of coronavirus is speedily spreading across Punjab amid a spike in the number of patients and the death toll in the wake of large public gatherings that took place on the Independence Day and Ashura.

The Punjab health department spokesperson confirmed on Sunday that the Delta variant of the pandemic had spread in various cities of the province, especially Lahore. He said the department had prepared a strategy to counter the spread of the variant.

At least 467 deaths due to coronavirus have been confirmed among 23,364 people affected by the virus in the 36 districts of Punjab during the first three weeks of August.

The Delta variant of coronavirus, which reportedly originated in India, has spread to other districts of the province after initially being detected in Lahore and Rawalpindi.

“The variant of Covid-19 has now spread across Punjab, especially the districts near Lahore and Rawalpindi. Patients of Delta variant have been registered in Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Kasur, Jhelum, Chakwal, Faisalabad, Multan and other districts too. Now we have to counter this variant,” a senior official of the department told The Express Tribune.

The official said it was a matter of concern that confirmed patients of the variant had also been reported in villages of the affected districts and several deaths caused by it had been recorded.

Read Covid death toll past 6,600 with 21 more fatalities

“Now Punjab is in the grip of the Delta variant from India and those districts, cities and villages that were earlier considered safe are also being affected by Covid-19. The ratio of infection and deaths caused by it is continuously increasing in Punjab this month and the reason is clear that we did not follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs),” the official added.

He said disregard for the precautionary measures had been witnessed at the gatherings on the national and religious occasions.

The official said the people also appeared to have neglected the advice of staying away from coronavirus patients and the virus was now spreading as a result of lack of care by the citizens.

Punjab health department spokesman Sayed Hamad Raza said in reply to a question, “It is a fact that the Delta variant is speedily spreading and this is a dangerous development. However, Punjab Health department is making the maximum arrangements at hospitals following the increase in the number of patients, while we are also advising the people to follow the SOPs.”

He said the government had imposed smart lockdown in areas where coronavirus spread was at its peak in recent months and it would continue to implement the policy. Meanwhile, at least 22 deaths caused by coronavirus and 1,286 new cases of the disease were recorded in the province during the past 24 hours.

“The total number of coronavirus patients registered in the province so far has reached 379,575 and the death toll has risen to 11,525. Lahore remains at the top of the list of districts with respect to the reported cases with 658 people confirmed as Covid-19 positive during the past 24 hours,” the health department spokesman said.

He said the overall coronavirus positive test results rate in the province was 6.4 per cent, including 10.9% in Lahore followed by Bahawalpur at 8.7%, Rawalpindi at 7.9% and Multan 7.2%.

“We are focusing on vaccination and administering record doses every day, while there is no shortage of the vaccines at any centre. There are 626 vaccination centres operating in Punjab and we are easily achieving our targets in the province,” said Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Secretary Sara Raza.

People above 18 years of age are being vaccinated and more stock of the vaccine has been issued.

The official urged the people to follow the SOPs and keep in mind that vaccination was the only solution in the prevailing situation.

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