Apr 19, 2020, 11:00 AM
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Half of Pakistan’s population, unaware of coronavirus risk factors: survey

Islamabad, April 19, IRNA -- A survey carried by Pakistan’s well reputed university reveals that half of the country’s population is unaware about the risk factors of coronavirus.

According to the survey of Aga Khan University (AKU) only half of urban and rural Pakistanis are aware of the fact that diabetics, smokers and asthmatics are at a higher risk of falling severely ill from Covid-19.

Researchers surveyed 738 men and women across rural and urban Pakistan to assess knowledge about Covid-19 symptoms, its mode of transmission and ways of protection from the disease.

While over 90% of those surveyed knew that the elderly are at a relatively higher risk of complications, nearly half of respondents were unaware of other risk factors such as diabetes, smoking and asthma.

Accurate information represents the first step in effectively protecting oneself and one’s loved ones from the disease,” Prof Zafar Fatmi of the AKU’s community health sciences department said.

“This is especially critical for those living with at-risk groups as it will enable them to take the necessary precautions.”

Researchers also found an inadequate level of knowledge about symptoms of the disease. While the majority of respondents correctly recognised fever, coughing and a shortness of breath as signs of coronavirus, less than one in three respondents were aware of joint or muscle pain as being a symptom.

Similarly, fewer than one in four of those surveyed knew that a person could be carrying the coronavirus without showing any signs or symptoms.

Respondents who could accurately identify more than five of the 10 symptoms of the disease listed by the World Health Organisation were considered to have adequate knowledge; just eight per cent of those surveyed through the study were able to meet or exceed this benchmark.

Researchers also found a widespread belief in the myth that coronavirus could be treated with existing medications.

Even though there is no cure for the virus and only its symptoms can be treated, up to 60pc of urban Pakistanis incorrectly believed that pneumonia vaccines could protect them from the disease while 83pc of rural respondents asserted a myth that existing medicines can effectively treat the disease.

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.

According to the latest available statistics, the nationwide tally of COVID-19 patients has soared to 7,986 with 1,868 recoveries and 158 deaths.

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