ISLAMABAD: While health authorities conducted the highest number of coronavirus tests in a single day, they anticipate a 15-20 per cent rise in daily cases over the next week across the country due to lifting of the lockdown.
According to data released by the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) issued on Thursday, 15,346 tests of Covid-19 were conducted during the last 24 hours — 6,164 in Sindh, 5,439 in Punjab, 1,644 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 1,331 in Islamabad. Overall, 429,600 tests have so far been conducted.
Moreover, 2,132 new cases of coronavirus and 42 deaths were reported in a single day. As many as 350 patients are in critical condition and 10,900 have been admitted to 726 hospitals.
National Institute of Health (NIH) Director General Maj Gen Dr Aamer Ikram, while talking to Dawn, said that according to estimates the number of daily cases might increase by 15-20pc due to the government’s decision to relax the lockdown.
“The incubation period of the virus is between five and seven days so we have been expecting that the number of daily cases will increase as the interaction between people has increased. However, in the next week we will be in a better position to ascertain the percentage of increase in number of cases,” he said.
PMA writes letters to PM, CMs seeking protection of healthcare workers
In reply to a question, Dr Ikram said there could be moderate to sharp rise in Covid-19 cases.
“For us it would be satisfactory if cases increase by 15 to 20 per cent as we will be able to deal with the situation. However, a further increase can be problematic and it may compel the government to reconsider its decision regarding lifting of lockdown,” he said.
He advised the masses to take precautionary measures while interacting with relatives and friends on the occasion of Eid, going to markets and later at their work places.
It is worth mentioning that Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar has already warned that the government can reconsider its decision to open businesses and industries if people fail to follow the precautionary guidelines.
Dr Ikram said that despite Eid holidays the NCOC would meet regularly to look into the pandemic situation in the country. “NIH will also remain open and testes will be conducted with same pace. We have already made arrangements to make our staff available,” he added.
Security of healthcare providers
The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) has written letters to the prime minister and chief ministers, expressing concern over threats to life and health of doctors, nurses and paramedics due to the prevailing coronavirus situation in the country.
“We demand [of the governments] to take appropriate steps for the protection of healthcare workers from coronavirus. We also demand they provide security to the healthcare workers at hospitals from violent incidents,” PMA Secretary General Dr Qaisar Sajjad said in the letters.
Talking to Dawn, Dr Sajjad recalled that a patient died of Covid-19 at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre in Karachi and staff told the relatives of the deceased that some formalities had to be followed but the latter became violent.
“I have learnt about similar cases from Lahore and Islamabad. The healthcare providers may stop working if such incidents continue. Around 1,100 doctors have already gone in isolation. The government has been trying to get ventilators, but we don’t have expert staff to run those ventilators,” he said.
Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2020