Punjab hospitals urged to enhance COVID-19 testing

Reports of surge in COVID-19's JN.1 variant cases across globe give rise to risk of disease spread

By
Ummay Farwa
 
A health official collects a swab sample from a teacher to test for the COVID-19 coronavirus at a government school following the governments announcement to reopen educational institutes starting from September 15, in Karachi on September 14, 2020. — AFP
A health official collects a swab sample from a teacher to test for the COVID-19 coronavirus at a government school following the government's announcement to reopen educational institutes starting from September 15, in Karachi on September 14, 2020. — AFP

  • Health department says testing can curtail spread of disease. 
  • "Testing only tool to assess magnitude of disease".
  • Authorities directed to comply with orders in true letter and spirit.


LAHORE: The Punjab government has notified all the hospitals across the province to enhance testing for COVID-19, the pandemic that once brought the world to its knees, amid a risk of disease spread.

The directive has been issued after the recent reports of a rise in the cases of a variant of the coronavirus across the globe — and diseases spreading across the province amid deadly smog.

"I am directed to refer to the subject cited above and to state that according of media reports, a surge in COVID-19 cases is once again being reported in various parts of the world," an official of the Punjab health department said in a statement. 

It stated that COVID-19 testing is the only tool to assess the magnitude of the disease and to curtail the transmission of this deadly disease.

The statement directed all the authorities concerned to comply with the orders in true letter and spirit.

The directives come days after the reports of a 52% rise in COVID-19 cases globally during a 28-day period, starting from November 20 to December 17, 2023, as compared to the previous 28-day period, with over 850,000 new cases reported.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on December 24 issued a new COVID-19 epidemiological update on the global and regional situation, with information on hospitalisations and ICU admissions, and updates on the variants of Interest and variants under monitoring.

Later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that the new COVID-19 variant, JN.1, now accounts for 44.1% of cases in the United States, indicating a significant increase in the fast-spreading variant's prevalence.

The increase in JN.1 infections is more than two times larger than the 21.3% estimate for the week ending December 9, after Thanksgiving, CBS News reported, citing CDC’s findings.