ISLAMABAD: While around 1,000 cases and over 20 deaths have been reported daily in the country during the last five days, in global ranking Pakistan has been ranked 24th in terms of most number of cases and has become 29th country in which over 500 deaths have been reported due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

Moreover in Asia, Pakistan has been ranked sixth in terms of most number of cases and eighth in terms of most number of deaths.

According to data available on the website of the Ministry of National Health Services, the countries in which most number of deaths have been reported are: the United States with around 70,000 deaths, Italy over 29,000, United Kingdom over 28,000, Spain 25,000 and India more than 1,500 deaths.

On the other hand the neighbouring countries China and Iran, which were initially at topmost ranks respectively in terms of number of cases, have now been dropped to double digit ranks.

Situation to start improving next month, hopes official

Executive Director of the National Institute of Health (NIH) Maj Gen Prof Dr Aamer Ikram told Dawn that things would start improving for Pakistan next month.

He said according to different models, the total number of cases in Pakistan could go up to 150,000 but hoped that the number of cases would remain less than 100,000 by May 30.

“The curves in top nine countries, including Italy and Spain, have started straightening. Brazil and Russia are going to become new hubs of coronavirus. Curve will start flattening in Pakistan after May 30,” he said.

Prof Ikram said that he was hoping that surge in the number of cases would slow due to increase in temperature but a sudden spell of rain helped the virus to spread.

“However still the situation is under control and we believe that Pakistan will be able to pass through difficult time without a major damage,” he hoped.

Microbiologist Prof Dr Javed Usman, while talking to Dawn, said that the virus got destroyed at 56 degree Celsius which was not possible to attain in the human body as human cells were destroyed at over 42 degree Celsius. Moreover temperature inside buildings usually remained at 30s degree Celsius, he said.

“However it is a fact the behaviour of the virus is not as aggressive in the subcontinent as it is in the US and Italy. As the virus is made of RNA (ribonucleic acid) it has 100 times more tendency to change or mutate itself. That is why it is most difficult to invent vaccines for RNA viruses such as HIV and hepatitis C viruses,” he said.

However, an expert working at the NIH, requesting not to be quoted, differed with the opinion that the virus would be controlled in Pakistan after May 30.

“Though it is being claimed that the first phase of the virus spread has completed in Pakistan, I believe that escalation of the first wave has just started due to which we are getting around 1,000 cases and over 20 deaths on daily basis. It shows that the month of May will be problematic,” he said. “On the other hand the government is going to relax restrictions on public movement and our masses are not responsible. It will further increase the problems for the health sector, which may collapse,” he feared.

Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2020