Health experts fear Covid-19 resurgence

Updated 29 Aug 2020

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Prof Amjad said that the virus could stage comeback and people should adhere to SOPs.
Prof Amjad said that the virus could stage comeback and people should adhere to SOPs.

PESHAWAR: Experts have divergent opinions about sharp decline in Covid-19 cases and deaths as some believe that it is still premature to say that the virus is disappearing while others argue that decrease in cases is result of herd immunity developed by the community and measures taken by the government.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which has recorded 1,249 deaths and 35,893 cases since the onset of the pandemic, hasn’t reported any death during the last three days while cases remain 42 on average per day during the same period. However, experts say that it is premature to say that the virus has disappeared.

“I am very surprised with no logical explanation except to mention Almighty Allah. The virus has suddenly decided to behave but like horror movies I fear it to come back,” Prof Mohammad Amjad Taqweem, the chief executive officer of Health Net Hospital, told Dawn.

He said that he was expecting massive rise in Covid-19 cases after Eidul Azha, August14, inauguration of Bus Rapid Transport (BRT), reopening of markets and no one following any standard operating procedure from market to mosque but surprisingly he was wrong.

Some attribute decline in coronavirus cases to herd immunity

“The cases are actually decreasing. Medically speaking, probably the virus has mutated to less aggressive form. Anyway, I still expect it to come back anytime as disappearance without quantifiable reason is more worrisome as we don’t know what to expect,” said Prof Amjad, a former physician at Lady Reading Hospital.

He said that his advice remained same that was better safe than sorry. “Mask, distance and hand wash along with mouthwash should be regular part of our life at least for six months. If there is no recurrence of Covid-19 in the six months then Allah has done special treatment with Pakistan and we should be grateful for that, he said.

When asked if there was any scientific evidence about decline in Covid19-cases so far, Prof Amjad said that the number of patients in clinics and hospitals declined so it was good enough evidence.

“The virus has decreased, not disappeared totally but its decrease is a mystery. It is because the reason for increase are all present and the reason for decrease is speculative theory that virus has mutated to less lethal form,” he said.

Prof Amjad said that the virus could stage comeback and people should adhere to SOPs.

Khyber Medical University Vice-chancellor Prof Ziaul Haq attributes decline in Covid-19 cases and mortality to the measures taken by the government as well as herd immunity to the disease.

“When most of a population is infected with Covid-19 and achieve immunity to the disease, this provides indirect protection or herd immunity to those, who are not infected.

An infected human is a source of transmission. More people immune to the disease causes disruption of the transmission cycle,” he said.

Prof Zia said that there were few small community-based representatives sero-prevalence study conducted and they did not have the actual number but it could be one of the reasons of decline in Covid-19 cases.

He also counted the government’s commitment as cause for decline in the virus. “Shutting down of educational institutes, campaign in media and regular meetings at the government level along with precaution measures have caused the virus to do down,” he said.

Another public health expert said that Pakistan, which saw violent outbreak in June and July, was surprisingly recording drop in deaths and cases. He termed it a welcome sign but said that there was no scientific evidence to conclude that the virus was vanishing.

“About 30 to 40 per cent population, which was vulnerable to the pandemic, has already got infected and the others had strong immune system and remained safe. Most population is of young age having strong immune system and lockdown measures are the reasons for decrease in Covid-19 cases,” he said.

He said that the country recorded on average 20 deaths per day in May and June. “Now it is registering on average five to six deaths per day but the cause is unclear. But it can flare up,” he feared.

Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2020