Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho said on Thursday that owing to a surge in Covid-19 cases in China due to a new sub-variant, they had requested the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) to test all passengers coming from China at airports across the country and to quarantine those who tested positive for the viral infection.
“The new sub-variant of Covid-19 has spread in China and responsible for the surge in the cases. This variant has not yet reported in Pakistan, so we need to take precautionary measures to deal with it. We have written a letter to the NCOC to prepare new SOPs and guidelines and test every passenger coming into the country from China at the airports,” he told newsmen after inaugurating a paediatric cardiac high dependency unit (HDU) at the Civil Hospital Karachi.
The paediatric cardiac HDU has been established with the financial assistance and support from former students of Dow Medical College (DMC) of 1997 batch. The inauguration ceremony was also attended by Vice Chancellor Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) Prof Saeed Quraishy, Medical Superintendent CHK Rubina Bashir, President Dow Class of 97 Dr Ghazanfar Qureshi, Dr Naheed Mahar, Dr Ammara Jamal and others.
The health minister maintained that efforts were being made to prevent the spread of new variants of Covid-19 in the country, because due to economic conditions, Pakistan was not in a position to deal with any new wave of the pandemic.
“Treating patients in the ICUs and HDUs requires millions of rupees on a daily basis, and in the present economic situation, so much spending is not possible by both the government and the people. The only option available is to delay the arrival of new variants in Pakistan and prevention by following SOPs.”
Pechuho said they have requested the NCOC to issue new SOPs and guidelines and suggested that all the inbound passengers on flights from China be tested for Covid-19 at airports. In case of positive results, the person will be quarantined until they become negative for contagion, she said, adding that they have proposed that serology tests of confirmed positive cases should be carried out.
“A huge number of false negative cases of the new Covid-19 variant are also being reported, so any person showing symptoms similar to the virus should be isolated and tested on PCR for confirmation,” she said while quoting their letter to the NCOC.
She added that they have also suggested mandatory administration of Pfizer booster doses to people who got inoculated six months ago, especially those above the age of 65. “The establishment of isolation centres for positive cases and those with symptoms but showing negative tests is also one of our requests to the NCOC. Such people must undergo chest x-rays as a part of pneumonia investigation,” she said, adding that they had also recommended that Covid vaccination should be made mandatory for both national and international travel, wearing masks in public, and avoiding mass gatherings.
To a query, she said multinational pharmaceutical companies were leaving because prices of medicines were not being increased by the authorities. She warned that if prices of medicines were not increased, these companies would stop manufacturing medicines and Pakistan would have to import medicines from abroad.
“We are asking the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) to review the prices of medicines because of medicines’ raw material is becoming expensive and the cost of production has increased.”
Earlier, the health minister inaugurated the paediatric cardiac high dependency unit at the CHK and said one of the major reasons behind congenital birth defects, including heart issues among children, is due to cousin marriages. She added that more surgical units for surgeries on children born with birth defects in their hearts were needed.
Congratulating the Dow Class of 97 for their support for the establishment of the paediatric cardiac ICU, she ordered recruitment of nursing staff for the new unit. Prof Saeed Quraishy also lauded the efforts of former students of Dow Medical College for their alma mater and the Civil Hospital Karachi.
Source: The News