KARACHI: Underscoring the need for a sustained preventive strategy against Covid-19, speakers at a webinar held on Saturday said the public health challenges posed by the coronavirus were not yet over and the situation might deteriorate if people didn’t show caution during the upcoming religious events.

The event titled ‘Covid-19 pandemic: myths and realities in Pakistan and the way forward’ was organised by the Peoples Doctors’ Forum (PDF).

The event started off with moderator Senator Dr Karim Ahmed Khwaja, PDF president, expressing grief over the massive human loss caused by Covid-19 worldwide so far. This was followed by one-minute silence by participants in memory of the coronavirus victims.

During the discussion, experts discussed how the pandemic was taking shape in the world and the region. They were of view that people must continue to show caution as the Covid-19 challenge is not yet over.

Scientists, they pointed out, were still exploring the behaviour of the virus, which was ‘mutating’ causing changes in the disease pattern in different regions of the world.

On the local situation, there was a shared concern among experts that the upcoming three major events, the Eidul Azha followed by Muharram and the Eid Milad-un-Nabi, could lead to a major spike in Covid-19 cases if the general public didn’t follow the preventive strategy against the disease, including the standard operating procedures announced by the government.

Doubts on official Covid-19 data

They were also sceptical about the official Covid-19 data and said it didn’t reflect the ground reality which, they said, was far more serious.

They called upon the government to take health professionals on board on its Covid-19 strategy and enhance its testing capacity especially in the areas showing downward trend in coronavirus cases, such as Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Gilgit Baltistan, and Azad Kashmir.

Some speakers criticised the government for not making any contract yet for getting an urgent delivery of Covid-19 vaccine as soon as it’s available in the market, though other countries had started this process. The vaccine, they said, should be available to all free of cost.

Participants included Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences (LUMHS) Vice Chancellor Prof Prof Bikha Ram Devrajani, Covid-19 coordinator at Dow University of Health Sciences Prof Amanullah Abbasi, Dean Faculty of Medicine at Baqai Medical University Dr Jameel Ahmed, public health specialist and chest physician Dr Muhammad Suleman Otho and PDF president Sindh Dr Abdul Razzak Shaikh and dean medicine LUMHS Prof Sohail Almani.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2020