In media interaction, visiting delegation urges greats social distancing, more aggressive testing to determine true spread of disease
Visiting health experts from China on Wednesday said that due to limited testing, no one really knew how many cases of the coronavirus were actually in Pakistan.
Talking to a select group of journalists in Karachi after meeting with representatives of the Sindh government, the head of eight specialists, Ma Minghui, said that it appeared high-risk Pakistani groups were more prone to contracting coronavirus as compared to Chinese nationals. “In high-risk people, the rate of infection is 10 percent in Pakistan as compared to China, where it was as low as 1-2 percent,” he said. “In Pakistan, the testing capacity is very limited, so nobody knows how many people have been infected with the virus,” he added, according to a Geo News report.
The experts urged the Sindh government to enhance its testing capacity, saying it was essential to isolate infected patients from the healthy population. “Expand the testing of coronavirus as much as possible and then isolate those who test positive as well as their close contacts. Try to find out as much as possible about those who have contracted the virus and then protect others from these people by isolating them. We have learnt that testing is very limited in Sindh, but the government says they are trying to increase the testing capacity, which is very heartening to know,” he said.
According to Ma, the government should also be stricter in enforcing the ongoing lockdown, and prevent gatherings of people and travel to different places. He also advised the people to stay at home as much as possible. “Awareness is very important and people should be told that they can only avoid contracting this disease if they stay at home.”
The Chinese experts, including critical care experts, pulmonologists, microbiologists, nursing, technical experts and pathologists, also urged people to use face masks alongside other preventative measures such as frequent hand washing and use of sanitizers.
“Wearing masks is very important and everybody should wear some kind of face mask. Masks not only prevent the wearer from contracting the disease, but it also prevents others from getting the infection. Wearing masks should be mandatory for everybody like we [China] did not allow anybody to come out without masks on their faces,” he said.
The medical experts reiterated that it was a fallacy to believe the virus would not be able to survive the coming summer temperatures. They said it was currently spreading in both warm and cold areas, including parts of Africa, and was equally affecting people of all races and ethnicities.
“Common sense says viruses like the flu virus spread more rapidly in winters as compared to summers, but coronavirus is spreading and infecting people in the warmer regions like Africa at the same pace as in the cooler regions… The only option against it is prevention through social distancing and other measures,” said Ma.
To a query, the Chinese expert said that while different medicines and combination of drugs were being tested for treating COVID-19 patients, there was no cure thus far. He said that the federal and provincial governments should constitute a panel of experts comprising radiologists, microbiologists, pulmonologists and critical-care experts to advise doctors and paramedics on how best to treat patients.
During their visit, the Chinese medical team met local medical experts and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, provincial health minister Dr. Azra Pechuho and other officials.