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Dr Ataur Rahman Image Credit:

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s health experts as well as the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) officials have expressed fears the country’s efforts to control coronavirus could end in complete jeopardy as still, there is no data available on the possible number of coronavirus cases in the country.

Presently, there are more than 1,600 confirmed cases of virus reported in the country but according to eminent scientist Dr Ataur Rahman, who is also Chairman the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Science & Technology, the number could be much higher in the coming days.

While talking to media on Sunday, Rahman urged the government to put all those who are leaving their houses without a genuine reason into lock-up. “Unless we take stringent measures, the situation would remain out of control,” said Dr Rahman.

Coronavirus is spreading like wildfire and even the US seems to be losing its battle against the virus, said Dr Rahman, stressing the number of tests as many as possible.

When asked about the country’s coronavirus testing capacity, he said that at the moment, a few thousand suspected cases can be tested every day but that is not being done.

“We have sought the Chinese government’s help in this regard and they are facilitating us with testing kits and medical equipment, besides sharing their experience with us to help defeat this pandemic,” he added.

Vice Chancellors of Health University and former Executive Director of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) Dr Javed Akram also called for widening the testing facility and termed it essential to fight the virus.

“We need to test maximum number of suspects of coronavirus and do exactly what South Korea did to restrict the virus spread,” said Dr Javed.

In population, he explained South Korea is less than 25 per cent of Pakistan but it has conducted 0.5 million tests of its total population of 51 million. On the other hand, Pakistan has so far conducted only 2,000 tests while the number of suspected patients could be more than 15,000.

Coronavirus is spreading fast from one person to another and unless we conduct large-scale tests and isolate the carriers of the virus we cannot effectively fight this war, he said.

WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has also criticised some nations for not doing enough to detect and contain deadly coronavirus.

There has been a rapid escalation of Covid-19 cases over the past week but we have not seen an urgent, enough escalation in testing, isolation and contact tracing which is backbone of the response, he said.