PESHAWAR: As the number of coronavirus cases and deaths is on the rise, various organisations of doctors have called for the enforcement of a strict lockdown across the province until Eidul Fitr to stem the spread of the infection.
They also urged religious scholars to realise the gravity of the situation and ask the faithful to stay away from mosques for congregational and Taraweeh prayers.
Addressing separate news conferences at the Peshawar Press Club on Friday, Provincial Doctors Association chairman Dr Zubair Mehsud, Common Wealth Medical Trust Pakistan director Dr Umar Ayub Khan, Young Doctors’ Association president Dr Rizwan Kundi and Pakistan Islamic Medical Association president Prof Mohammad Tayyab said Ramazan was the best month to contain the virus as majority of people stayed indoors.
They said the province had recorded 85 deaths by coronavirus and 1,541 confirmed cases.
The doctors said the province had 5.5 per cent Covid-19 case fatality rate, which was the highest in the country.
Warn congregational prayers can spread Covid-19 beyond control
They said the countrywide coronavirus deaths totalled 228 indicating 2.1 per cent CFR.
The doctors warned that congregational prayers might cause violent outbreak and major spread of the disease, which couldn’t be controlled.
They said even young and healthy shouldn’t be allowed to attend congregations as in the combined family system, young and healthy members would play havoc on return.
“Our health system is vulnerable mainly due to lack of proper resources, personal protective equipments, ventilators and trained staff,” Dr Umar said.
He added that the ventilators needed proper trained staff for intubation, carrying out different tests in case of multiple organ failure.
The CWMTP director said with the existing facilities, the only solution of the problem was to ensure social distancing everywhere.
He said the opening of mosques for large number of people and relaxing the lockdowns, the disease would spread alarmingly and the health system would automatically collapse.
“It is now confirmed that virus is causing thickness of blood besides affecting lungs and cause stroke in young people,” he said.
Dr Umar said over 60 health professionals had been infected with the virus and the number would increase if the government did not pay heed towards suggestions of the medical professionals.
“Our health system with about few intensive care facilities will collapse, the health professionals will also be infected and the scenario will be worse than the US’s. Our testing capacity is very limited and there was no way we can test 220 million people,” he said.
YDA leader Dr Rizwan said coronavirus could be controlled only by lockdown and social distancing.
He called for the provision of personal protective equipment and increase in the testing capacity and availability of required machines in the hospitals and warned if that didn’t happen, doctors won’t be able to meet the challenge.
Meanwhile, health minister Taimur Khan Jhagra that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had become the first province to conduct pool testing for Covid-19.
He told a news conference here that the government had increased the province’s Covid-19 testing capacity by five times.
The minister said the Public Health Reference Laboratory at the Khyber Medical University had been allowed to conduct pool testing.
He said after successfully conducting 27 trials on pool testing with 100 per cent accuracy, the PHRL had been mandated to do pool tests, he said.
He said the pool testing involved taking multiple samples and conducting a combined test.
“Under this mechanism, if you are conducting three, five or 10 tests and the results come negative, then that [population] pool can be ruled out and 10 others can be declared negative. However, if one of the cases becomes positive, you will have to re-test all samples individually,” he said.
The minister said the mechanism was meant to process a larger number of samples at a faster pace by using a smaller amount of kits.
He said the technique of pooling was used when the frequency of the disease was low, less than 5pc but ideally less than 1pc.
Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2020