People must learn to live with virus: PM aide

June 07, 2020

Email

ISLAMABAD: Health workers arrive at a drive-through testing and screening facility for the coronavirus on Saturday.—AP
ISLAMABAD: Health workers arrive at a drive-through testing and screening facility for the coronavirus on Saturday.—AP

ISLAMABAD: As the number of coronavirus cases surged to 96,445 — an increase of around 5,000 cases in a day — amid strong criticism from the opposition of the Centre for relaxing the lockdown before flattening the curve, the federal government on Saturday said lockdown was not a solution to the pandemic anywhere in the world rather the masses should change their behaviour and learn to live with the virus.

“There are two solutions to address the issue. One is to change the behaviour of the masses to curtail the spread of disease. In other words we need to ensure implementation of standard operating procedure at public places, offices and everywhere. Behavioural change is also a science and we need to ensure it as we need to start living with the virus. Second thing is that we need to identify the hotspots and do contact tracing for which tracing, testing and quarantine (TTQ) policy has been introduced,” said Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Zafar Mirza while speaking to participants of an event at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims).

“Now a days we are spending half of our life in the National Command and Operation Centre for Covid-19. Behavioural changes first need to be accepted by mind. Our psychologists are working to bring behavioural changes so that we start living with the virus as we don’t know that how long we will have to live with the virus,” the PM’s aide explained.

He said generalised, unspecific and timeless lockdowns were not the solution. “We have introduced smart lockdowns and ensuring contact tracing. In Pakistan over 700 areas are under smart lockdown. Though we are getting complaints regarding ventilators but till date only 25 per cent ventilators, dedicated for Covid-19 patients, are engaged and we have statistics of each of the hospitals. There is a pure managerial issue rather than issue of resources,” he said.

Dr Mirza said: “We have a habit that we try to admit our patients to the best hospital in the country as it has become a symbol that we are well connected and we love our patients. Because of this behaviour ventilators, at smaller hospitals, remain vacant,” he claimed.

• Cases jump to 96,445 amid criticism over govt measures • Mirza says ventilators at smaller hospitals remain vacant

He said all the statistics of available ventilators and beds could be accessed through internet so that Covid-19 patients could be hospitalised without any difficulty.

Till Saturday evening, the tally of Covid-19 confirmed cases had jumped to 96,445, with 1,974 deaths and 32,581 recoveries. Sindh has so far detected 36,364, followed by Punjab where 35,308 cases have been recorded, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has confirmed 13,001 cases and Balochistan has found 6,221 cases Covid-19 positive. The federal capital has recorded 4,323 cases, Gilgit-Baltistan 897 and AJK 331 cases.

About PPEs, the PM’s aide on health services said: “We are now able to assess the need of the personal protective equipment (PPEs) and there is no shortage of the PPEs. However, we are getting complaints about the PPEs, which mean hospital managements are not managing the PPEs. Moreover, there is irrational use of PPEs. We have started training of 100,000 health professionals so that they would ensure proper use of the PPEs. However, the number of the healthcare workers infected with Covid-19 in Pakistan is far lower as compared to developed countries,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Mirza tweeted that fake news were circulating about him and his wife turning Covid-19 positive.

“THIS IS INCORRECT. Both of us are negative Alhamdolillah. But who will make accountable the irresponsible media who keeps reporting unsubstantiated news. Legal notice is on the way to the below!” he tweeted.

250 new ventilators

To enhance capacity and meet requirements of the provinces as well as AJK, Gilgit Baltistan and Islamabad, the NCOC allocated and issued 250 additional ventilators during the last one week.

Thirty four ventilators — 24 for PIMS hospital and 10 for Polyclinic hospital — have been issued to Islamabad.

In Punjab, 72 ventilators have been provided to hospitals in Faisalabad, Multan, Rawalpindi and Lahore. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh have been issued 52 ventilators each, while 20 ventilators have been given to Balochistan for hospitals in Quetta. Ten ventilators each have been issued to Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

The NCOC said the highest-ever number of tests (i.e. 22,185) in a day were conducted on Friday (June 5) across the country.

Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2020