Special assistant to the P.M. on Health tells media 35 percent of all confirmed coronavirus cases in Pakistan have fully recovered
The coronavirus situation in Pakistan is “under control,” said Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza on Friday, as the country reported a new record of 57 deaths and 157 patients on ventilators in critical care.
Addressing media in Islamabad, Mirza said this was the highest number of deaths that Pakistan had thus far recorded in a single day. Similarly, he said, this was the first time 157 patients were on ventilators simultaneously.
“Undoubtedly, the virus is spreading,” he said. “A patient being placed on ventilator is a sign of severe illness. Their lungs stop working and they have to be put on an artificial machine so their breathing function can be assisted,” he said. “However, a majority of those on ventilators—about 85-90 percent—recover,” he claimed.
According to the special assistant, Pakistan also recorded 2,636 new infections in the past 24 hours—another first. “During the last 24 hours we saw 2,636 cases… so far this is the maximum we have seen in a 24-hour period,” he said.
Acknowledging that the situation is worsening, he said a further rise in cases and deaths was expected. “This is not to cause alarm. The main question to address here is whether our facilities have enough beds, especially in critical care units,” he said, adding once again that the situation is “under control” and that only 18-20 percent of ventilators designated for the use of coronavirus cases are currently being utilized.
Referring to recent reports from doctors that they are running short of beds and ventilators due to a sharp spike in new infections, Mirza admitted the “situation is a bit serious at big hospitals in cities.” However, he claimed this was only because these facilities were located in cities with large populations.
“It is often found that there is a lack of beds or ventilators [in such hospitals] and such things start getting reported on social media and create a panic,” he said. However, he failed to clarify whether this meant the government would start sending people to smaller hospitals outside of cities where space was available once the hospitals in major urban centers have all filled up.
Comparing Pakistan’s situation with the rest of the world, Mirza said that the global tally of confirmed cases had now climbed to around 6 million, of which 362,000 had died and around 2.5 million—43%—had fully recovered. “Pakistan has a similar trend,” he said. “Of the 64,000 confirmed cases, approximately 35 percent have completely recovered,” he added.