Coronavirus can rapidly spread in Ramazan: Dr Zafar Mirza

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ISLAMABAD: The government has cautioned people that the coronavirus can rapidly spread in the month of Ramazan, rendering the frail health system incapable of accommodating all patients.

The warning came from Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza on Saturday hours after an ENT surgeon in Peshawar died from coronavirus amid doctors’ concerns over the government measures to contain local transmission of the contagion.

As the tally of confirmed virus cases surged past 12,500 with more than 260 deaths, the PM’s aide warned the masses that they should change their routine of visiting shops and mosques. “The trend observed on the first of Ramazan was not encouraging at all,” he said, adding that Covid-19 could rapidly spread during the holy month.

“Traditionally rush is observed at shops at the time of iftar. The situation on Saturday evening was not different than that of past years. People need to understand that if we don’t follow the precautionary measures, the situation may become worse. Pakistan is passing through a crucial, critical time when the disease can spread rapidly. I request the masses that they should change their routine of iftar, sehar and visiting mosques,” he warned while speaking at a news conference.

The PM’s aide said doctors from across the country had held press conferences and expressed their concerns.

“I believe that doctors are aware of the situation of hospitals and our capacity issues. I request you not to go to the places of rush.”

He told the media that for doctors, the government had launched a website under the Yaran-i-Watan programme so that overseas Pakistani health professionals could register themselves to volunteer their services in the fight against Covid-19. “Prime Minister Imran Khan also tweeted in that regard on Saturday,” he said.

Also a website (telehealth.gov.pk) had been launched for doctors to register themselves for telemedicine, the PM’s aide added.

While sharing the global data, the PM’s aide said 2.8 million people have been infected with the disease and over 197,000 have lost their lives, while 800,000 patients have recovered.

“In Pakistan, over 138,000 tests have been conducted. In the past 24 hours, 785 cases and 16 deaths were reported. The disease is being transmitted locally and only 21 per cent cases have been reported in foreign travels. As many as 2,755 persons have recovered in Pakistan,” he said.

About speculations that a vaccine was being made in Pakistan, Dr Mirza said: “Pakistan is not manufacturing the vaccine, but a Chinese company has contacted us to become part of trial of vaccine. We have contacted the company for the documentation and we will take a number of steps, including addressing ethical issues, before allowing [the trial].

“However, it will take time and those who think that a vaccine will be available in a few months are not right.”

He made it clear that there was no medicine available for the treatment of Covid-19 patients though research was being done across the world.

“A similar research is being done in Japan on anti-viral medicine and the embassy of Japan in Pakistan has contacted us for trials in Pakistan. We have requested for the documents and decision will be made after analysing the documents. It is too early to say that medicine will be available,” he said.

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