Glimmer of hope as number of cases goes down slightly

Updated 25 Jun 2020

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Number of tests has reduced from over 32,000 to around 25,000 per day. — AFP/File
Number of tests has reduced from over 32,000 to around 25,000 per day. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: With all trends of the novel coronavirus changing downwards for the last five days, health experts hope it can be the start of declining of the graph.

They anticipate that the number of cases may further decrease but the number of deaths may increase as a large number of patients are still on ventilators and around 90 per cent of them may not survive.

The country reported 3,622 Covid-19 cases and 78 deaths over the past 24 hours, taking the national tally of cases to 191,022 and casualties to 3,808.

According to data released by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), 4,000 to 5,000 cases were being reported daily for the past few days, but the number has been declining with every passing day. However, the worrisome thing is that the number of tests, which had reached over 32,000, has reduced to around 25,000 during the past few days.

Testing has been reduced over the past few days

An official of the National Institute of Health said on condition of anonymity that it was true that the number of tests had reduced over the past few days, but it was also a fact that the number of suspected patients declined across the country. “It can be the outcome of smart lockdowns or maybe we are moving towards herd immunity due to which now less number of cases is being reported,” he added.

The herd immunity is a terminology in which if a large number of people are infected, the pace of infection reduces.

The official claimed that there was no policy to reduce the number of tests for Covid-19. “However, tests have been reduced because we have been getting fewer numbers of suspects in hospitals. Let me prove it with another example i.e. almost a week back the case positivity was around 20 per cent which means that 20 out of 100 tests were being found positive. However, on Tuesday (June 23) the case positivity was 16.7pc. It shows that more suspects were tested as compared to last week,” he explained.

“Though the number of deaths also reduced, it may increase in coming days, as around 550 patients are on ventilators and almost 90pc of them may not survive. The trend has changed and graph has started declining so we will hold a meeting on Saturday (June 27) to discuss the projected number of cases in coming days,” the official said.

When contacted, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said data spoke for itself but it would be too early to talk about it.

“As far as trends are concerned let us hope that the trajectory is in the right direction, but we should wait rather than giving a verdict,” he added.

Profiling of patients

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz presided over an in-camera meeting of the subcommittee of Parliamentary Committee on Coronavirus Disease at the Parliament House.

The meeting was attended by MNAs Khawaja Asif and Shahida Akhtar Ali, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan, Parliamentary Secretary of National Health Services Dr Nausheen Hamid and others.

According to a statement, Mr Faraz directed the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) to prepare profile of patients on the basis of age group and arrange different break-ups of data to better understand the spread of Covid-19.

The subcommittee was of the opinion that the pricing of Covid-19 tests needed to be brought down so that the maximum number of patients could fall in the affordability bracket. It suggested that the areas declared hotspots must be cordoned off as per standard operation procedures (SOPs) and all stakeholders should play their role strictly as no complacency could be afforded in this regard.

The NHS ministry was directed to address the complaints of the general public regarding different fee structures and devise a mechanism for lowering the exorbitant rates charged by private hospitals.

The subcommittee decided to hold next meeting within 15 days and advised the ministries and divisions concerned to come up with detailed response to the recommendations communicated earlier.

549 patients on ventilators

According to the NCOC data, out of 1,539 ventilators allocated for Covid-19 patients, 549 have been occupied across the country. Moreover, 1,895 additional ventilators are in the pipeline and will be added to critical healthcare capacity by the end of July. “Provincial governments, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and Islamabad have been making all-out efforts to enforce health guidelines/instructions compliance for public safety and well-being and to contain the spread of coronavirus,” it states.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2020