KARACHI: The Indus Health Network (IHN) has launched a Pakistan-specific Covid-19 self-screening tool to help people self-check their symptoms and risk factors at home.

It can be accessed at http://covid19.tih.org.pk/

Dr Naila Baig-Ansari, chairperson of the Indus Hospital Research Centre, stated that the need for this tool was felt when they saw people getting into a panic and heading to hospitals to get tested for Covid-19.

“However, given the limited number of Covid-19 testing kits, only those patients who are meeting the high suspicion criteria are being tested at government-designated hospitals. The stable patients or those with lesser symptoms are being advised to self-isolate at home and monitor themselves for 14 days,” she said.

Dr Ansari having a PhD in epidemiology said the initiative was taken to help clinical colleagues in the front line for which the team decided to convert the screening and triage guidelines circulated regularly to the clinical faculty into an easy self-screening tool.

Dr Naseem Salahuddin, head of the infectious diseases department at Indus Hospital, said the tool would help people decide whether they need to consult a doctor.

“Widespread messages of awareness and symptoms of Covid-19 are justifiably causing anxiety in the community. Many people rush to a medical facility for a test, which may or may not always be necessary. With this tool, people sitting at home can see their risk level by sharing (accurate as much as possible) information about their symptoms, health status and contact history.”

Experts at the Indus Hospital said it’s a screening tool and not a diagnostic test.

The tool would be updated as the team finds out more about the epidemiology of Covid-19 patients in Pakistan.

The Urdu version is being tested and will also be incorporated shortly.

Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2020