International publications have expressed skepticism regarding a sharp decline in Covid-19 cases in the country despite a lax following of coronavirus Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) by the population.
During June 2020, the daily death toll due to the virus had hit almost 150, with hospitals reporting lack of space and resources to accommodate further coronavirus patients. Since then the daily death toll has fallen to approximately around 20. The cause of the drastic fall however, remains uncertain.
As per a report published in The Telegraph, the fall in the Covid-19 cases initially coincided with a fall in testing with people alleging that the government had reduced testing in order to hide the prevalence of the disease.
However, other indicators like hospital admissions and proportion of positive tests have also seen a drastic drop which negates the theory that the government had purposefully reduced Covid-19 tests.
As of mid August, a number of hospitals in Lahore which had been filled in excess of their capacity, have now closed special wards built specifically to cater to Covid-19 patients. Those hospitals that still have such wards or quarantine centers are reporting a decrease in the number of patients.
Moreover, the report suggests that stigma and the prospect of forced quarantine attached to the disease has meant that a large number of people do not get themselves tested despite having symptoms of the disease. This keeps the total number of reported cases low despite possible death occurring from the virus.
According to a report published by BBC, during June 2020, Miani Sahib, which is the biggest graveyard in the city, received 1,176 burials compared to 696 in June 2019. However, only 46 of the 1,176 bodies buried belonged to reported Covid-19 patients. Such a drastic increase in burials could have been linked to unreported Covid-19 cases.
However, since June burials rates have fallen back to normal levels.
Similarly, reports further suggest that Pakistan’s relatively young population might have played a major role in bringing Covid-19 cases down since young people are less likely to be severely affected and have stronger immunity.
Other possible reasons suggested for the drop in Covid cases include smaller social circles in Pakistan compared to the Western countries, a hotter weather in which the virus finds harder to thrive and the government’s smart lockdown policy which saw localised areas being sealed if cases rose to a certain level rather than a generalised nationwide lockdown.
Reports further said that while all these reasons point towards potential possibilities which explain the falling pattern of Covid-19 cases in the country, experts are still divided on what exactly led to the dying down of the virus.