Covid-19 Emergency in Pakistan: the future lies with the vaccine
The Covid 19 situation in Pakistan is leading to an inciting panic. The virus initiated from Wuhan, China at the end of December, 2019 and later spread rapidly in Asia and other continents of the world.
The first Covid 19 positive case was reported in Pakistan on February 26, 2020 in Karachi, Sindh.
Currently, the number of Covid positive cases has risen to 541.000 while the recent fatalities recorded are about 11.560, according to the latest updates from NCOC (National Command and Operation Center) (1,2).
Covid-19, in Pakistan as in Italy, ignorance facilitates the spread of the coronavirus
The main cause of this swift spread of the virus is the ignorance of the local people.
Despite the advent of the second wave of Covid 19, people are taking the SOPs casually.
The worst situation is being faced by the people residing in the province of Sindh, as about 220,501 cases have been confirmed uptil now.
While 142,058 cases of Covid 19 has been confirmed in Punjab, 59,955 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 38,531 cases in Islamabad and 18,280 in Baluchistan (3).
Pakistan falls in the category of developing countries with a population of around 197 million and only less than 1% of its GDP is spent on the health care sector (4).
Initially, the virus was only being treated in the province of Sindh.
According to one qualitative analysis, only 12 health care professionals including both doctors and nurses were designated in 5 hospitals to deal with patients infected by virus and no other city had facilities to cope with the virus (5).
The impact of Covid-19 on hospitals in Pakistan
The Hospitals were running out of space due to the increasing spread of the virus, but the situation has been somewhat improved now and currently, 6 tertiary hospitals with 955 isolation beds have been designated by the government of Pakistan for Covid 19 patients in Punjab, 4 hospitals in Sindh with 151 beds, 10 hospitals in Baluchistan with 534 beds, 7 hospitals in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 856 isolation beds and only one in Islamabad with 10 beds (6,7).
The government of Punjab is emphasizing the early diagnosis and prevention of the virus.
Currently, 22,000 to 23,000 tests are being conducted every day.
According to the Health Minister of Punjab, Rs14 million has been spent on the treatment of Covid 19 in the province.
The government is also adopting smart lockdown policies in the hotspot areas in various cities.
The PCR test for diagnosis and antigen tests for contact-tracing (which is essential for health care professionals to keep them safe from the virus) are being conducted.
Moreover, the antibodies test to confirm the absence of virus in the recovered patients has been scheduled to be conducted soon in Pakistan (8).
The future prospects of the country will depend on the statistics of Covid positive cases and the availability of vaccine in Pakistan (9).
Although, the pandemic has hit the country hard, positive outcomes are expected with the use of vaccine.
Article written for Emergency Live by Dr Rabia Anees
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Sources and References:
1. National Command Operation Center (ncoc.gov.pk)
2. Latest News, Today’s Paper and Daily ePaper – The Nation (nation.com.pk)
3. Pakistan (coronastats.net)
4. Combating COVID 19 in a public sector hospital in Pakistan (nih.gov)
5. Frontiers | Factors Impeding Health-Care Professionals to Effectively Treat Coronavirus Disease 2019 Patients in Pakistan: A Qualitative Investigation | Psychology (frontiersin.org)
6. List of COVID-19 Designated Tertiary Care Hospitals Pakistan.pdf
7. List of Province-wise COVID-19 Hospital Isolation Wards Pakistan.pdf
8. MKRMS seminar on COVID-19: Punjab govt stressed on prevention, diagnosis, says Dr Yasmin (thenews.com.pk)
9. Coronavirus vaccine to be available in Pakistan by March 2021: SAPM – Profit by Pakistan Today