Pakistan sees lowest Covid positivity ratio

Published November 14, 2021
Muslim devotees wait for a train before their departure to their hometowns at a railway station ahead of Eidul Azha in Karachi on July 20. — AFP/File
Muslim devotees wait for a train before their departure to their hometowns at a railway station ahead of Eidul Azha in Karachi on July 20. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan recorded its all-time lowest Covid-19 positivity ratio on Saturday and saw a considerable drop in number of cases last witnessed in August 2020.

On the other hand, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) has taken notice of the unavailability and black marketing of a medicine given to Covid-19 and dengue patients to treat pain and fever. It also dir­ected the provincial departments to initiate action.

According to data shared by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), 231 patients surfa­ced during the last 24 hours while the infection rate dro­pped to 0.68 per cent.

The last time the country reported cases below 231 was 14 months ago when 213 people got infected on Aug 30, 2020. Similarly, the positivity percentage on Saturday was the lowest ever recorded since the relevant authorities started measuring infection rate in March last year.

The data further revealed that as of Nov 13, there were 23,090 active cases in the country out of which 1,161 were admitted to hospitals. As many as 1,119 patients were under critical care.

Meanwhile, Drap took notice of the unavailability of a medicine administered to Covid-19 and dengue patients to reduce fever and relieve pain.

Paracetamol tablets, which are sold under different brand names, have become short across the country – only available in the black market.

A letter issued by Drap, dated Nov 13 and available with Dawn, stated that keeping in view the current situation of dengue virus, the demand for Paracetamol has increased manifold.

“Availability of the said tablet is of prime importance for general public. It is therefore requested that all the field force may be directed to ensure availability of Paracetamol tablets on the Maximum Retail Price as fixed by the federal government,” the letter sent to the provincial Drap offices stated.

An official of the Ministry of National Health Services, requesting not to be named, was of the view that medicines became unavailable whenever their demand increased.

“Though there is an issue of demand and supply as well, but unfortunately, whenever the demand rises, some elements resort to hoarding to increase the price and sell it in the black market,” he said, adding that they were trying to address the issue and soon the medicine would become available.

PMC cancels NLE

The Pakistan Medical Commission’s (PMC) Medical and Dental Council, on the recommendation of the Examination Department of the National Medical Authority, has decided to invalidate the National Licensing Exam (NLE) Step 2 (Medical) held in the Multan centre from Oct 29 to 31st.

The council has directed that the NLE Step 2 (Medical) for the 149 students who appeared in the Multan centre be held again within four weeks.

Students will not be charged for the examination.

The council also ordered immediate inquiry into the process of examination held in the Multan centre, determine responsibility and take strict action.

It is worth mentioning here that medical graduates cannot commence practice until they clear NLE.

“The decision to invalidate the NLE Step 2 (Medical) examination was based on discrepancies found in the marking of the clinical practical exam. Review and assessment of each exam conducted is an integral part of all PMC examination systems to ensure that results of all exams are fair and represent a true assessment of the students and is strictly on merit,” the PMC statement said.

PMC President Dr Arshad Taqi, meanwhile, said: “The NLE Step 2 (Medical) examination assesses the clinical skills of a graduate and determines their ability to work as an independent practitioner. It is our moral duty to only allow a safe doctor to become part of the healthcare delivery system of Pakistan.”

He further said that a post-exam review was held before the final result as per PMC policy and discrepancies were found in the Multan NLE Step 2 (Medical) centre, which stood cancelled and to be re-held at a later date.

“The foundations of our reforms rest on our commitment to transparency, meritocracy and integrity,” Dr Taqi said, adding that this blatant disregard for patient safety would not be overlooked by the PMC and the results of the inquiry would be shared with the public.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2021

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