79pc infections in Pakistan caused by local transmission

Updated 24 Apr 2020

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Under track and trace system, random testing will be conducted. — Dawn/File
Under track and trace system, random testing will be conducted. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: While the number of Covid-19 cases has risen to almost 11,000 in the country with 742 new ones surfacing over the past 24 hours, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) revealed on Thursday that 79 per cent of these cases had been caused by local transmission of novel coronavirus.

As the nature of the infection has undergone this change, the government has decided to introduce track and trace system under which random testing of people will start in a few days.

During the first week of the current month, it was being claimed that almost 90pc patients were travellers from foreign countries and there were fewer cases caused by local transmission of the virus. However, fresh data show that only 21pc cases have been reported in foreign travellers.

Executive Director of the National Institute of Health Maj Gen Prof Aamer Ikram, while talking to Dawn, said that as the whole situation had changed due to local transmission, it had been decided to change the policy to tackle the issue.

“Earlier most of the cases were being reported in those people who were coming from abroad and even cases of local transmission were being reported among those who had come into contact with foreign travellers. However now a majority of cases is being attributed to local transmission of the virus,” he said.

Under track and trace system, random testing will be conducted

Prof Ikram said that a track and trace system was going to be introduced under which random testing of people would be started in a few days.

“Our testing capacity has been increased due to which now we are in a position to start random testing in residential and industrial areas. In a few days our teams will start visiting communities to seek information about the people having cough or other symptoms of Covid-19. Because of surveillance we will be in a position to pick cases and if a person is found positive for the virus, we will test all residents of his/her house,” he said.

Asked why suspected patients were advised to go to hospital to get them tested, Prof Ikram said it was really an issue as there was a need to minimise the mobility of suspects.

“We are trying to introduce a mechanism under which all suspects will have to stay at their houses and healthcare providers will approach them to get the sample for testing,” he said.

He said that limiting the mobility of suspects would reduce the chances of spread of the disease.

According to the NCOC data, 124,549 tests have been conducted since the first case was reported in Pakistan. As many as 2,337 patients have recovered but around 60 are in critical condition across the country.

Meanwhile, 717 hospitals have been providing treatment to people suffering from Covid-19 and 2,779 patients have been admitted to hospitals across the country.

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2020