KARACHI: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said on Friday the country would witness an increase in recovery rate in the coming days owing to its young population who have a stronger immune system.
Speaking to Arifa Noor on DawnNewsTV, Dr Mirza said the demography of Pakistan was structured differently and there were fewer people aged 70 here than in the West. “This is why more young people aged 21-30 are being infected. However, there is a positive side to the pattern as young people have a stronger immune system and so recovery rate would be high as well,” he said. “We will witness more recovery cases in the coming days.”
Speaking about the arrival of PPE (personal protective equipment) on April 5, Dr Mirza said right now the priority was to protect frontline workers, mainly health staff coming directly in contact with Covid-19 patients. He said with the help of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the government had fast-tracked procurement of PPE and the first consignment is scheduled to arrive in Pakistan on April 5.
Asked if the equipment would be provided to screening staff as well, he said those working in quarantine facilities and isolation wards would be facilitated first and then the distribution would be staggered. More equipment would arrive in the country in the coming days, he added.
The PM’s assistant said the government was testing hundreds of people every day. “A majority of the people in quarantine are from Taftan. Say there are 7,000 suspected cases, 3,000 were tested and out of those 24pc are quarantined,” he said.
Aide says equipment will first be provided to those working in quarantine facilities, isolation wards
Talking about a woman testing false positive in Punjab, he said the testing kit being recommended by the government was very effective. “We are only recommending ECR-based testing,” he added.
Dr Mirza said the government was prioritising testing based on high priority cases and could not test everyone right now.
In reply to a question about speculation over low numbers in Pakistan, he maintained the government was not hiding any cases. “We are absolutely transparent. All numbers are on the government website. We will update test numbers soon,” he said.
Dr Mirza said the government had some grim projections about the spread of the virus in Pakistan and was considering all aspects to contain it. He said viruses affected people differently across geography, climate and race and their mutation patterns were being studied in Pakistan.
Talking about the Mayo Hospital case, Dr Mirza said the Punjab chief minister had ordered an inquiry into the incident. He said the incident was a result of poor training and medical education. “If you ignore the health sector, this is what happens. The healthcare system needs to be reformed,” he said, expressing regret over the incident.
About the issue of keeping mosques open, Dr Mirza said religious leaders had been very supportive. “My personal opinion is that Jumma congregation should not happen. But Masajid should remain open for Azaan,” he said.
Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2020