Apr 9, 2020, 2:51 PM
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Chinese expert voices concern over increasing coronavirus in Pakistan

Islamabad, April 9, IRNA -- The head of the Chinese medical team visiting Pakistan has expressed serious concerns over the rapid increase of novel coronavirus cases in the country.

“In Pakistan, one out of every 10 people tested for COVID-19 up till now has returned a positive report,” revealed director general health of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Dr Ma Minghui.

“This is much higher than Xinjiang, where only one in 100 people tested for the virus reported positive,” said the expert while talking to local media.

According to Dr Ma there was the possibility that the outbreak in Pakistan could be far bigger than the confirmed numbers show.

“Unfortunately, Pakistani authorities are fighting this virus in the dark right now,” said the expert.

“Although they have taken positive steps by imposing restrictions on movement and business activities, the shortage of testing kits and reluctance of citizens to come forward for testing may be masking true numbers.”

“And you cannot contain COVID-19 until you have a clear picture,” expert added while urging the Pakistan government to urgently increase its testing capacity while raising awareness so that more and more citizens come forward for testing.

“The Pakistan government must immediately constitute a team comprising radiologists, microbiologists, nurses, respiratory specialists and critical care experts to deal with this potentially deadly virus,” said Dr Ma Minghui.

This team must keep up to date with new findings as and when they are released as what we know about the virus is changing by the hour,” Dr Ma said. “At the same time, the government can start converting basic health centres into testing facilities.”

On the topic of standard operating procedures being introduced by the provinces, Dr Ma said it would only be beneficial if everyone followed them. For instance, the expert pointed out that while many Pakistanis were increasingly using hand sanitisers, most were still out and about without masks.

“Masks are more important as they not only protect those who wear them but others as well,” said the expert.

The visiting doctor also acknowledged that Pakistan had a vastly different socio-cultural environment than China and advised Pakistani leaders to be mindful of that while evaluating what measures to take.

“I believe the people of Pakistan will defeat COVID-19,”said Dr Ma Minghui. “We need to be united against this disease and collaborate with each other intensively.”

The nationwide tally of COVID-19 patients has soared to 4,332 with 572 recoveries and 63 deaths.

The government of Pakistan has urged citizens to self-quarantine and keep physical interaction to a minimum as the number of cases continues to soar every day. Partial lockdowns are imposed in various provinces to slow down the rate of spread, and ‘flatten the curve’.

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