The prime minister’s aide on health, Dr Zafar Mirza, on Friday said that a record 2,636 cases were recorded in the last 24 hours — the highest number recorded in a day, so far.
“During the last 24 hours we saw 2,636 cases […] it is a big number and so far is the maximum we have seen in a 24 hour period,” Dr Mirza said.
He said that onn a global scale, we have seen almost 6 million cases, of which more than 362,000 are deaths and of the total confirmed cases, around 43% — which is about 2.5 million — have recovered too.
“Pakistan has a similar trend. Of the 64,000 confirmed cases, approximately 35% have completely recovered,” he said.
The aide however warned that a gradual rise is being witnessed in the number of deaths. “Over the last 24 hours, 57 deaths were reported.”
This, he said, is the maximum number of deaths reported yet.
Dr Mirza went on to say that the greatest number of patients on ventilators — 157 — has also been recorded.
“So, undoubtedly, the virus is spreading,” he said.
“A patient being on a ventilator is a sign of severe illness. Their lungs stop working and they have to be put on an artificial machine so their breathing function can be assisted.
“However, a majority of those on ventilators — about 85-90% do not die,” he said.
Acknowledging that the situation is worsening, he said that a further rise in cases and deaths can be expected.
“This is not to cause alarm. The main question to address here is whether our facilities have enough beds, especially in critical care units,” said the aide on health.
He said that the situation is “under control” and that 18-20% ventilators designated for use in coronavirus cases are being utilised currently.
Dr Mirza said that in big hospitals of large cities, it is often found that there is a lack of beds or ventilators and such things start getting reported on social media and create a panic.
He assured the nation that “sufficient beds and ventilators are available” and that the situation is being “closely monitored” by the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC).
“We have developed a system under which at any given time we can see what the situation in any hospital is — how many beds are available, how many beds have been allotted for coronavirus patients, how many beds there are in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and how many are under use. Similarly, number of ventilators under use and available,” said Dr Mirza.
He said details of the system will be shared tomorrow.
Handling of bodies
Speaking more on deaths, since a spike in their number is being seen, Dr Mirza said that previously very strict protocols were underlined for the handling of bodies. He said due to those, a lot of misunderstandings developed and a lot of difficulty was faced.
Dr Mirza said that in view of this, a new set of guidelines have been made available on the government coronavirus portal covid.gov.pk for safe management and burial of a body.
He said that since no evidence was found that transmission can occur from deceased persons, the guidelines were revised.
Laying out broad points, Dr Mirza said that firstly, when someone passes away, the people handling the body must exercise all those precautions which we take in handling a patient. They must wear masks and gloves.
Secondly, the body must not be touched or kissed by relatives too much.
Thirdly, it may be given the funeral bath prescribed in our religion, he said, with all necessary protection equipment on. Also, care must taken to not splash the water. The use of shields and goggles, if possible, will guard against transmission through splashes.
Fourthly, the use of a cloth shroud is completely permissible.
Fifthly, while lowering the body to the grave, the people doing so must also have protective gear on. Also, crowds during funeral prayers must be avoided.