Thursday Apr 09 2020
Web Desk

Chinese coronavirus experts ask Sindh to increase testing capacity

Web Desk

Chinese health experts have advised the Sindh government to enhance its coronavirus testing capacity as it is necessary to isolate the affected individuals from the healthy population, The News reported Thursday.

Comprising eight specialists, including critical care experts, pulmonologists, microbiologists, nursing, technical experts and pathologists, the Chinese medical team met local medical experts and Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, provincial health minister Dr Azra Pechuho and other officials, and advised them to take measures to contain the spread of coronavirus in the province, especially in Karachi and other populated cities.

They said the virus is spreading fast in both warmer and colder areas on the earth, including Africa where the temperature is quite warm as compared to other regions of the world, while it is equally affecting people of all races and ethnicities.

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“Common sense says viruses like the flu virus spread more rapidly in winters as compared to summers, but coronavirus is spreading and infecting people in the warmer regions like Africa at the same pace as in the cooler regions. Similarly, it is not sparing people of any race or the country and is affecting everybody on the earth who is not taking precautionary measures. The only option against it is prevention through social distancing and other measures,” said Ma Minghui, head of a visiting Chinese medical team, while talking to journalists in Karachi on Wednesday.

Tougher measures

Talking to a selected group of journalists in Karachi, the director general health of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Ma Minghui, said they had recommended the government to enhance its testing capacity, test as many people as possible and ensure tougher measures to ensure a lockdown and social distancing in the province.

“Expand the testing of coroanvirus as much as possible and then isolate those who test positive as well as their close contacts. Try to find out as much as possible about those who have contracted the virus and then protect others from these people by isolating them. We have learnt that testing is very limited in Sindh, but the government says they are trying to increase the testing capacity, which is very heartening to know,” Ma  said.

He said the government should enforce the lockdown in letter and spirit and prevent gatherings of people and travel to different places. He also advised the people to stay at home as much as possible. “Awareness is very important and people should be told that they can only avoid contracting this disease if they stay at home.”

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Ma maintained that the federal and provincial governments should constitute a panel of experts comprising radiologists, microbiologists, pulmonologists and critical-care experts, who should be in contact with different hospitals and facilities where COVID-19 patients were being treated and advise doctors and paramedics on how to treat the patients.

To a query, the Chinese expert said that although different medicines and combination of drugs, including Hydroxycholoroquine, Chloroquine anti-viral drugs, were being experimented to treat patients, but he added that so far, no cure was available in the entire world against this virus, which was quite new and unknown to scientists.

High-risk groups

The Chinese medical expert claimed that high-risk Pakistani groups were more prone to contracting coronavirus as compared to Chinese nationals, which was evident from the data as the rate of infection among those who returned from Iran was 50 per cent while among those who attended the religious gatherings, it was about 15 per cent.

“In high-risk people, the rate of infection is 10 per cent in Pakistan as compared to China, where it was as low as 1-2 per cent. In Pakistan, the testing capacity is very limited, so nobody knows how many people have been infected with the virus,” the Chinese expert added.

Face mask mandatory

The Chinese medical experts said they had observed that people were more interested in using hand sanitisers but are very careless about the usage of face masks. They added that they had recommended the use of face masks for everybody along with the usage of hand sanitisers and practice of hand washing to prevent contracting coronavirus.

“Wearing masks is very important and everybody should wear some kind of face mask. Masks not only prevent the wearer from contracting the disease, but it also prevents others from getting the infection. Wearing masks should be mandatory for everybody like we did not allow anybody to come out without masks on their faces,” the visiting health expert added.

The visiting medical team further advised people to wear masks properly, saying some people were only covering their mouths and advise experts to guide people on the usage of masks properly.