Islamabad: With the number of COVID-19 cases crossing the 1,00,000-mark in Pakistan, the World Health Organisation has warned that the virus restrictions were hastily lifted in the country without due consideration to outbreak indicators. Also Read - Unlock 2 in Jammu and Kashmir: Shopping Malls Can Reopen, Movement of Individuals For Non-essential Activities Remains Prohibited
In a letter to Punjab province Health Minister Yasmin Rashid dated June 7, WHO Country Head, Pakistan, Dr Palitha Mahipala said the coronavirus has spread to almost all districts in the country with big cities making up majority of the cases. Also Read - Soft Copies, 6 Feet Distance, Sanitisers: New Rules For Parliamentary Panel Meets
Punjab is the worst-hit province in Pakistan with over 40,000 cases. Mahipala has recommended an “intermittent lockdown” approach. Also Read - Madhya Pradesh Now Has Over 1,000 Containment Zones, Indore Tops The List
“Government intervention on April 12 detailing social distancing measures, including movement restrictions, closure of schools and businesses, international travel restrictions, and geographical area restrictions were instituted with the aim of limiting the spread of the disease,” the letter stated.
The WHO country head pointed out that after the partial relaxation on May 1, and complete relaxation on May 22 the infection rate had increased on both occasions.
Pakistan had lifted the virus restrictions in view of an under-control rate of transmission and the health system’s ability to “detect, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact”.
However, the letter said the detection rate remains high, the surveillance system is weak, capacity to treat critical patients is limited and the population is not ready to adapt.
It said that Pakistan’s reproductive number (R) — number of individuals infected by each carrier — is also greater than 1.
The WHO urged the government to increase its testing capacity beyond 50,000 tests per day and strengthen public health measures.
It recommended the government to enforce a “two weeks on, two weeks off strategy” as it offers the smallest infection curve.
Rashid confirmed receiving the letter. He said the recommendations were for the entire country, not just for Punjab.
Pakistan, for the first time, has recorded over 100 COVID-19 deaths in a single day, health officials said on Tuesday.
Another 4,646 new COVID-19 patents were diagnosed in the last 24 hours, taking the total tally to 108,317, the Ministry of Health Services said.
Total number of fatalities stands at 2,172 in the country, with 35,018 patients fully recovering.
Punjab has registered 40,819 cases, Sind 39,555, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 14,006, Balochistan 6,788, Islamabad 5,785, Gilgit-Baltistan 952 and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir 412.
The authorities conducted a record 24,620 tests in the last 24 hours, taking the number of total tests done so far to 7,30,453.
As the numbers soar, the worst fears may come true about the capacity of hospitals across the country. Though, the government still claimed that there was enough space available.
But the resources would be spread thin in the coming days as peak time would come by the end of July or beginning of August.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb was tested positive a day after she confirmed that former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was tested positive.
Marriyum’s mother and PML-N lawmaker Tahira Aurangzeb was also tested positive. Both mother and daughter have quarantined themselves.