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Pakistan Medical Association Seeks Extension in Lockdown

by Newsweek Pakistan

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Special Assistant to P.M. on Health says government will launch campaign to educate masses on coronavirus preventive measures

A representative of the Pakistan Medical Association, which includes as members healthcare professionals from across the country, on Tuesday urged the government to extend existing lockdown restrictions, saying there is no other way to control the coronavirus pandemic.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore, PMA President Dr. Ashraf Nizami said the situation was worsening, adding that 509 medical professionals had now been infected with COVID-19 in Pakistan. He said the number of patients being admitted to hospitals was rising daily, and warned that doctors had been forced to halt treatment of other ailments to cope with the surge.

Dr. Nizami urged the government to establish dedicated 1,000-bed hospitals for infectious diseases across the country to help doctors cope with the crisis. He also asked the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan to take note of long queues outside banks, which he warned could aid in spreading the virus.

Describing various measures that could be adopted to reduce the load on the country’s healthcare system, the PMA president said the government should issue all traffic violations online and avoid contact between police and motorists.

“Traders should also shift to conducting their business online or through mobile phones,” he said.

Nizami’s warning comes as the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Pakistan has hit 22,823 with the tally rising by around 1,000 daily. The death toll has also reached 526, against 6,217 recoveries.

Awareness campaign

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza told a private broadcaster that the government would soon launch a media campaign to educate the masses about proper preventative measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

He reiterated that it was fortunate that Pakistan had, thus far, reported far fewer cases of COVID-19 and deaths, as compared to other countries of the world. However, he failed to mention how this is significantly linked to lack of testing capacity; despite claims that the country would be able to administer 25,000 tests/day from May, Pakistan has yet to exceed 10,000 tests/day.

Mirza urged people to show maturity and follow social distancing guidelines after lockdowns are relaxed in the country to contain the virus. He also commended the role of ulema in educating the masses to avoid rush in mosques during the holy month of Ramzan. This, again, is false, as multiple reports have proven that the government’s guidelines for social distancing during congregational prayers are being repeatedly violated with little consequence.

Earlier, Dr. Mirza told a meeting at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad that health workers were front-line heroes and the government was providing them safety equipment on priority basis.

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