Pakistan sees lowest number of cases since March 16

Pakistan reported the lowest number of Covid-19 cases since March 16 as the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) issued guidelines for Eidul Fitr prayers on Tuesday.

The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), on the other hand, released data about the number of doctors and paramedics who lost their lives to coronavirus, the Dawn reported.

According to details shared by the NCOC, 3,084 cases were detected and 113 patients died throughout the country in a single day. Earlier, less than 3,084 cases surfaced on March 16 when 2,351 people got infected. The highest figure in the third wave was recorded on April 17 when 6,127 people tested positive.

The data further showed that 607 ventilators were in use while the number of active cases was 78,959 as of May 11. The overall death toll has swelled to 19,106 while 5,353 patients were under treatment in hospitals across the country.

A meeting of the NCOC reviewed the mobility control measures to be implemented during Eid holidays. Minister for Planning, Dev­e­lop­­ment and Special Initia­tives Asad Umar and Lt Gen Hamooduz Zaman Khan pr­e­sided over the session wh­i­ch was also attended by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan via video link.

In the wake of the ongoing restrictions in force till May 16, the forum urged the nation to stand united in supporting the steps taken for the well-being of the citizens. It also approved guidelines under which it suggested that Eid prayers be organised in open spaces under strict Covid-19 protocols.

“If there is a compulsion to offer prayers in the mosque, then windows and doors should be left open for good ventilation,” an NCOC statement said, adding that two to three Eid prayers at one venue with staggered timings should be held to minimise strength.

The forum recommended that Eid sermon should be kept brief to reduce exposure and discourage sick and elderly people and children below 15 years of age from attending the prayers. It would also be mandatory to wear masks and ensure multiple entry/exit points at the prayer venue.

The guidelines suggested arranging thermal screening and sanitisers at entry points as well as six-foot social distancing markings at the venue. Worshippers will be encouraged to perform ablution at home and bring their own prayer mats. Socialising/embracing and handshakes after prayers will be discouraged and gathering not allowed.

The guidelines proposed installing banners/panaflexes at prominent places at the venue highlighting Covid-19 protocols, and arranging well laid-out parking areas for crowd management.

As many as 202 doctors and 30 paramedics have so far died of Covid-19 in the country.

According to data released by the PMA, out of 202 doctors, 74 were from Punjab, including Islamabad, 65 from Sindh, 53 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, six from Balochistan, one from Gilgit-Baltistan and three from Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Among the casualties were 24 medical officers, 19 general physicians, 13 paediatricians, 11 anaesthetists, 10 from administrative posts, nine professors of medicine, nine ENT specialists, seven gynaecologists, six pathologists, six psychiatrists, four orthopaedics, four pulmonologists, four dentists, three ophthalmologists, three postgraduate trainees, three radiologists, two surgeons and two cardiologists.

PMA secretary general Dr Qaisar Sajjad requested the government to protect all doctors and paramedics by providing uninterrupted supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).

“Doctors serving in coronavirus-designated hospitals know that they are examining Covid-19 patients so they remain careful but general practitioners and other specialist doctors do not know whether their patient has the virus or not. Such doctors are more vulnerable, therefore all those serving in coronavirus-designated hospitals or at any other health facility were frontline soldiers in the war against Covid-19,” he said, urging the government to take all appropriate measures to protect them.

Talking to Dawn, Dr Sajjad said the government should declare vaccination mandatory for healthcare workers as it would help protect their lives.

“The PMA salutes doctors who are serving the nation in this difficult time. They are on the frontline in the war. In the present situation they are examining patients at the cost of their lives; even their families are at risk. Immediate steps should be taken for the protection of doctors and paramedics,” he said, adding that the PMA demanded that the government immediately provide Shuhada package to the aggrieved families who are passing through a hard time due to financial hardships.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that “globally, we are now seeing a plateauing in the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths, with decline in most regions, including the Americas and Europe — the two worst-affected regions”. However, he said, it was an unacceptably high plateau, with more than 5.4 million reported cases and almost 90,000 deaths last week.

“Any decline is welcome, but we have been here before. And cases and deaths are still increasing rapidly in WHO’s South-East Asia region, and there are countries in every region with increasing trends,” Dr Ghebreyesus said.

He said high- and upper-middle income countries represented 53 per cent of the world’s population, but had received 83pc of the vaccines.

By contrast, low- and lower-middle income countries account for 47pc of the world’s population, but have received just 17pc of the vaccines, he added.