PM fears virus wave in winter, advises use of mask

Published October 5, 2020
In this file photo, Prime Minister Imran Khan gives an interview to New York Times at the Prime Minister's Office in Islamabad. — Photo courtesy New York Times/File
In this file photo, Prime Minister Imran Khan gives an interview to New York Times at the Prime Minister's Office in Islamabad. — Photo courtesy New York Times/File

ISLAMABAD: With the number of Covid-19 infections rising again, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday warned that the nation could expect a spike in virus cases in winter.

The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) also expressed the fear, saying that laxity on the part of people could trigger a surge in cases.

According to the data shared by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Covid-19, active cases, which were a little over 6,000 last month, had risen to 9,425 by Oct 4.

“Compared to some other states, Allah has been kind to us in Pak & spared us worst effects of Covid-19. There is a fear onset of winter could result in 2nd wave. I urge everyone to wear face masks in public to avoid a spike. All offices & ed (educational) institutions must ensure masks are worn,” the prime minister said in a tweet.

NCOC data shows active cases over 9,000

Viruses of influenza (coronavirus) become more active with the decrease in temperature. However, experts believe that the casual attitude of people and violation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) could also lead to the spread of the virus and might push the country to a situation similar to that in the West and India.

The NCOC’s data, meanwhile, showed that the number of critical cases was much lower than expected.

As many as 95 ventilators were in use across the country out of 1,912 allocated for Covid-19. There was no patient on vent in Azad Kashmir and Balochistan on Sunday, the centre’s data revealed. Besides, there are 735 hospitals with Covid-19 facilities having 753 patients.

Expressing concern over the increase in cases during the last two weeks, particularly in Karachi and Sindh, the PMA deplored that people were neither wearing masks nor maintaining social distance.

“After opening of all trades, businesses, government offices and educational institutions, they are least bothered to observe SOPs,” the association said in a statement, adding that though the situation in the country was under control, it was still not coronavirus free. “Pakistan is at risk of a second wave of Covid-19,” the statement said.

PMA Secretary General Dr Qaisar Sajjad said it had been seen that the second wave of the virus in the US, UK, Brazil and other parts of the world proved more lethal.

“PMA believes that the government should take appropriate steps to properly manage the situation before it worsened. It needs to monitor closely and if cases increase in some areas or institutions, they must be locked again,” Dr Sajjad said.

He said educational institutions, hospitals, marriage halls and markets were more sensitive areas where SOPs should be followed strictly.

“In educational institutions, primary and pre-primary classes need more attention. The ratio of children with Covid-19 is small but they still could carry the virus to their homes and spread it to their elderly relatives. Although it is difficult for teachers to make smaller children follow SOPs, they will have to play a vital role to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” the secretary general said.

Dr Sajjad said wearing masks for a longer period was not good for children’s health therefore they should remove them when looking at the white board or teacher to breathe fresh air.

“They can keep the mask down if they are at a distance from others. PMA believes that till unavailability of a vaccine, masks should be considered a vaccine against the virus,” he said, adding that parents should keep informing their children about the preventive measures.

If we want to continue with our business, education system and other routine work, we will have to take preventions. We can only win this fight if every person follows SOPs and the government is determined to implement them strictly, he added.

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2020

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