Centre, Sindh reach consensus over Covid-19 tests on bodies

Published April 18, 2020
PM’s aide says country’s testing capacity is gradually increasing. — AFP
PM’s aide says country’s testing capacity is gradually increasing. — AFP

ISLAMABAD: Despite some differences over the level of the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the federal and Sindh governments have agreed to start conducting Covid-19 tests on bodies being brought to hospitals to ascertain the cause of death.

Meanwhile, the country’s capability to conduct Covid-19 tests is gradually increasing and on Friday the highest number of tests — 6,264 — were conducted since the first case was detected.

“Today I talked to the Sindh health minister and we both have agreed that Covid-19 tests on bodies being brought to hospitals will be conducted to ascertain whether the people had died of coronavirus or due to some other reason,” Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza said at his daily press conference on Friday.

The federal and provincial governments had reached the consensus on the matter a day after media reports claimed that over 300 bodies were brought to only one hospital of Karachi over the past 15 days while the Edhi Foundation’s mortuary had also received a similar number of bodies during the last fortnight.

Taking notice of these reports, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday directed the authorities concerned to release accurate data of Covid-19 patients and reported deaths so that people could know the factual situation.

PM’s aide says country’s testing capacity is gradually increasing

Dr Mirza said it would be wrong to declare that a person had died of coronavirus without having a laboratory test of the deceased. There­fore, he added, people should avoid speculation about such cases.

He said the federal and Sindh governments had agreed on a strategy that all bodies being brought to hospitals would be tested for Covid-19 and an advisory would be issued by the federal government in this regard on Saturday.

The advisory, he said, would give a guideline to medical practitioners about how bodies would be treated and how their tests would be conducted.

Dr Mirza said the Sindh minister had told him that the provincial government had started contacting relevant people to know the cause of death of persons whose bodies were recently brought to hospitals in the province.

Dr Mirza said over 30,000 Pakis­tani doctors and health experts were assets of the country, adding that they wanted to help the government in its fight against the deadly virus. “We are launching a platform to seek their expertise and assistance,” he said.

Testing capacity

Dr Mirza said the country’s coronavirus testing capacity was gradually increasing, adding that 6,264 tests were conducted on Friday. He said this was the highest number of tests conducted in a single day since the crisis began.

“Initially we were carrying out few tests in a day, but now our capacity has gone past 6,000 tests per day and by the end of this month we will able to conduct over 20,000 tests in a day,” he added.

Dr Mirza said 60 per cent cases in the country were locally transmitted. “However, the case fertility in the country is still quite low as 1.9pc against 6.7pc globally,” he added.

Ramazan guidelines

Dr Mirza said the government, in collaboration with all stakeholders, including ulema, was preparing guidelines for offering religious rituals and prayers during the holy month of Ramazan with precautionary measures to avoid the spread of coronavirus. “The guidelines are being prepared for fasting, prayers, Taraweeh and other congregations,” he added.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2020

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