Punjab pneumonia deaths jump to 220

A woman with a child enters the mother and child unit of a teaching hospital, which is experiencing an influx of patients suffering from respiratory illness due to rising air pollution in Lahore on December 4, 2023. — Reuters

Amid cold weather and pollution-fuelled smog, an alarming rise is being witnessed in pneumonia deaths as 12 more children succumbed to the infection during the past 24 hours across Punjab.

The provincial health department confirmed 12 more deaths of children in a day, taking the death toll to 220 in 24 days. Moreover, 1,077 new cases — including 251 children — have also been reported in 24 hours.

The provincial government adopted strict measures to overcome smog and health-related issues like closing educational institutions, relaxing the uniform code, and other steps, however, no respite from pneumonia is in sight so far as the number of infections and deaths is continuously rising.

Overall, 11,597 children fell prey to the lung infection in the last 24 days across the province.

Director of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) Dr Mukhtar Ahmed Awan urged parents to ensure the administration of the complete course of vaccines to children under the age of two.

He, however, said that the available vaccines were not quite effective in the prevailing viral pneumonia. Detailing the available stocks, Dr Mukhtar clarified that there is a sufficient stock of pneumonia immunisation vaccines that could be administered to both children and adults.

“Pneumonia vaccines are not available in the local market, whereas, no one can import these vaccines in Pakistan without the prior permission of the government. The government imports immunisation vaccines from foreign countries only for children,” the EPI director said.

Last month, the pneumonia outbreak was reported by Geo News, highlighting the large number of patients with chronic conditions and children falling prey to lung infection and other respiratory diseases due to weak immunity with the advent of the winter.

Health experts also warned of an acute rise in pneumonia cases among elderly people and children. They suggested plenty of rest, warm beverages, steam baths, or humidifiers in houses for air moisture and timely consultations with doctors.

Pakistan is amongst 13 countries across the globe where pneumonia spreads every year.

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