• Minister fears people may stop following SOPs
• 100 more die in a day despite decline in new cases

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has said that all the circumstantial evidence indicates a drop in patients’ inflow at hospitals despite the recent increase in the number of Covid-19 tests across the country.

But the positive development has enhanced the worries of the decision makers, as they feared that people might stop taking precautionary measures against the highly contagious virus with the slight improvement in the situation.

While talking to Dawn, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said the number of daily tests, which had dropped to around 20,000 [during last week], was again increased to around 25,000 across the country.

“However, the inflow of the patients has decreased. Though Sindh has not given us proper feedback, the feedback given by Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad shows that the inflow of the patients has reduced,” he said.

“There are four different parameters through which it can be identified that if the spread of the virus has been reduced. In other words, the system exhibits its situation through number of daily positive cases, number of admitted patients, number of patients on ventilators and number of deaths. All four parameters have been showing positive signs as numbers are decreasing,” he said.

The minister said the anecdotal evidences were also showing that number of coronavirus cases had been on the decline.

“I have talked to health minister of Punjab Yasmin Rashid and she also told me that the inflow of patients, at hospitals, has reduced. On Monday, during the meeting of the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) Dr Faisal Sultan [Focal Person to PM on Covid-19] said he used to see crowds at the mobile testing van which remains outside his house. However, for the last few days people hardly came there to get themselves tested for the deadly virus,” he said.

While replying to a question, the minister said he was very happy over the situation but at the same he was also worried that people might stop following the SOPs due to the decrease in cases. “Every person should strictly adopt precautionary measures, because otherwise there will be another spike of cases in coming days,” the minister said.

Over the past 24 hours, the country reported 2,711 coronavirus cases and 100 more deaths, taking the national tally of new cases to 208,358 and death toll to 4,254.

Media coordinator of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), Islamabad, Dr Waseem Khwaja said 75pc beds, dedicated for Covid-19 patients, were vacant at Pims. “There are 212 oxygenated beds and 25 ventilators in the hospital, but only 56 Covid-19 patients are admitted (on Sunday) of which 10 are on the ventilators,” he said.

According to the data available on the government website, during the last week the number of tests conducted in Sindh on a daily basis dropped from 10,000 to 6,458 on June 25 and 5,103 on the following day. There was an opinion that the daily tally of confirmed cases had also declined because of the reduction in number of tests. While during the last two days Sindh witnessed an increase in number of Covid-19 tests, the national tally of new cases remained less than those being confirmed in mid-June. On June 27 and 28, Sindh conducted over 11,000 tests and 9,144 tests, respectively. Yet the number of new cases that had surged to almost 7,000 a day in the country by the mid of June reduced by 40 per cent to around 4,000 a day.

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2020