Pakistan says fewer people opting for coronavirus testing amid 50 percent recovery rate

A health official wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) takes a swab sample from a man during door to door a screening and testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus at a restricted area sealed by the authorities in Islamabad on June 29, 2020, as virus cases continue to rise. (AFP)
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Updated 05 July 2020

Pakistan says fewer people opting for coronavirus testing amid 50 percent recovery rate

  • Officials say optimistic recovery rate may well be a temporary phase
  • Last month, government said it would increase rate of testing to 50,000 tests daily

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s health ministry spokesman, Sajid Shah, told Arab News on Saturday the number of people willing to get tested for COVID-19 in the country had decreased, even though the government had not reduced daily testing capacity amid optimistic rates of recovery.

After reporting its first case on February 26, Pakistan has so far officially registered nearly 213,000 infections of COVID-19 and 4,619 deaths. Of those infected, 125,000-- more than 50 percent-- have recovered.

“The masses consulting the NHS (National Health Services) to treat symptoms and our doctors advising patients over the phone have helped a great deal with recoveries... but at the same time the number of people willing to test for COVID-19 has dropped,” he said, and added it was still unclear whether the country had already reached the peak of the outbreak. 

The optimistic recovery rate, he said, may well be a temporary phase. 

But statistics look encouraging as more than half of Pakistanis who contracted COVID-19 have recovered with the country’s infection curve going down.

Health officials say a number of factors contributed to the high recovery rate.

“Hospitals have ramped up their facilities and are providing better care. District administrations have helped keep people indoors,” Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) executive director, Dr. Minhaj us Siraj told Arab News. He praised the government’s efforts to enforce smart lockdowns in virus hotspots, as well as people’s compliance with social distancing measures.

According to Siraj, nationwide awareness programs and recommendations of the National Command and Operation Center had also paid off with more people now conscious of the disease.

However he declined to comment on why the country’s coronavirus screening had dropped to 22,050 tests.

Last month, the government said it would increase its rate of testing to 50,000 tests a day from July. On June 19, Pakistan conducted 31,681 COVID-19 tests — the highest officially recorded.

Dr. Naeem Akhter, an infectious disease consultant and focal person for COVID-19 at PIMS, said people were “not very convinced for testing” because most knew they could recover on their own in the absence of a cure or vaccine.

“If the patients are not coming for testing, then the surveillance and record will be affected and you won’t be able to know how many people are basically affected,” she said.


Pakistan sends medicines, food items to Lebanon after deadly explosions

Updated 07 August 2020

Pakistan sends medicines, food items to Lebanon after deadly explosions

  • More than 150 people were killed and over 5,000 others were injured when a string of blasts rocked Beirut on August 4
  • FM Qureshi assured his Lebanese counterpart that the government and people of Pakistan stood in strong solidarity with the people of Lebanon

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday sent medicines and food items to Lebanon after a string of deadly explosions ripped through Beirut earlier this week, killing more than 150 people and injuring over 5,000 others.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to Lebanon Najeeb Durrani is handing over eight tons of relief items for the victims of Beirut explosions to senior Lebanese officials at the Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut on Aug. 7, 2020. (Photo courtesy Pakistan Embassy in Beirut)

According to an official statement released in Islamabad, the country’s foreign minister called his Lebanese counterpart and informed him about the relief assistance over the phone.
“Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in a telephonic conversation, informed his Lebanese counterpart, Charbel Wehbe, that 8 tons of relief assistance consisting of medicines and food supplies sent by the Government of Pakistan as a token of solidarity would be delivered in Beirut today,” said the official statement.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to Lebanon Najeeb Durrani is handing over eight tons of relief items for the victims of Beirut explosions to senior Lebanese officials at the Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut on Aug. 7, 2020. (Photo courtesy Pakistan Embassy in Beirut)

It added that Qureshi also expressed deep sorrow and grief over the loss of precious lives, injuries to people, and extensive material damage caused by the explosions.
“The Foreign Minister underscored that, at this difficult time, Pakistan stood in strong support and solidarity with the brotherly Lebanese people,” the statement said.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to Lebanon Najeeb Durrani is handing over eight tons of relief items for the victims of Beirut explosions to senior Lebanese officials at the Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut on Aug. 7, 2020. (Photo courtesy Pakistan Embassy in Beirut)

Meanwhile, authorities in Lebanon received the relief package on Friday afternoon.
“The relief goods were handed over to Deputy Chief of Protocol Mr. Salem Al Achkar from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants and General Elias Abi Karam, Commander of Lebanon’s Air Force by Najeeb Durrani, Ambassador of Pakistan, today at 1530 at Rafic Hariri International Airport,” Pakistan’s embassy in Beirut confirmed in a statement.