Pakistan’s positivity rate of the deadly coronavirus is now 22 per cent, finds a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Positivity rates, which are being monitored in all pandemic-struck countries around the world, is the percentage of positive results out of the total number of tests sampled. Pakistan’s positivity rate of the COVID-19 is higher than the expected, what can Pakistan do?
The WHO has recommended that Pakistan impose an “intermittent lockdown” to curb the spread of COVID-19, noting that the country doesn’t meet any prerequisites for lifting restrictions as was done on May 1 and then on May 22. https://t.co/lsxXuAqKU8
— Inquirer (@inquirerdotnet) June 10, 2020
Guidelines from the WHO recommend that countries looking to relax social distancing rules, lockdowns, or other public health measures should report a positivity rate of 5pc or less, for two consecutive weeks.
Although Pakistan has ramped up its testing to over 29,000 tests per day lately, of those tests diagnosed upward to 22pc have come back positive in total, notes the WHO. Meanwhile, Pakistan began easing its three-week lockdown in early May.
In a previous report of the WHO, dated June 4, a breakdown of the ratio by province was provided. Balochistan ranked the highest at 19pc, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 17pc, Sindh, 16pc, Punjab, 12pc, Gilgit Baltistan, 9pc, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, 4pc, and Islamabad, 8pc.
A report sent by a WHO representative to the Punjab government last week also pointed out the “high” positivity rate in the country.
According to the Johns Hopkins University in the United States, a high positivity rate may indicate that the country is “only testing the sickest patients who seek medical attention, and is not casting a wide enough net to know how much of the virus is spreading within its communities.”
While a low rate of positivity “can be seen as a sign that a state has sufficient testing capacity for the size of their outbreak and is testing enough of its population to make informed decisions about reopening.”
Pakistan’s positivity rate of the COVID-19: what do researches suggest?
Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar on Sunday warned that if the carelessness of citizens in following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) continues, coronavirus cases might climb up to 300,000 by the end of this month and 1.2million COVID-19 cases in Pakistan by the end of July.
As Asad Umar said that there can be 1.2million COVID-19 cases in Pakistan, according to research carried out by the Imperial College London and sponsored by the UK government, Pakistan is likely to face a worst-case scenario if the government does not interference to contain the deadly pandemic.
The Imperial College London’s algorithm creates the picture that Pakistan will reach the peak on August 10, 2020, on which day around 80,000 deaths will occur.
The News reported that the website says about Pakistan that if it imposes 32 percent lockdown from February 27 to July 11, i.e. for 135 days, then August 04 will be the peak day with 13,570,000 people will be affected. The worst day for Pakistan concerning corona deaths is expected on August 10 and deaths are projected to reach 78,515 after which deaths will start witnessing decrease.
The website also says January 2021 will witness an end to corona in Pakistan and on January 26, 2021, the total death toll in Pakistan from corona would be 2,132,617. It said if the lockdown was not imposed then 2,229,000 deaths will occur in Pakistan by January 26, 2021. If complete lockdown was imposed in Pakistan immediately, then the death toll may be restricted to about 10,200 by the end period.
Government lacks effective communication mechanism
As Pakistan’s positivity rate of the COVID-19 is higher than expected, analysts believe that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision not to impose a strict lockdown in Pakistan makes sense as a failing economy does afford to function under a curfew-like lockdown. However, the incumbent government has apparently failed to implement a strict policy of enforcing SOPs across the country.
Experts in Pakistan have warned against the premature easing of lockdown restrictions, fearing an exponential rise in infections. One healthcare worker said: “Everyone’s scared and exhausted. But we are fighting, we are pushing the limits. All we ask is that the government and people understand that they can help us help them by staying at home and providing us quality protective gear.”
Dr. Moeed Pirzada, a prominent Pakistani political commentator and columnist, believes that the government has failed to have an effective communication strategy to convey its message about the seriousness of the deadly pandemic. “The government needed to have a robust and effective communication mechanism to urge people to follow all the SOPs,” he said.
Asad Umar's warnings today point to the fact that PTI Govt's plans to restrict Corona Pandemic have failed. Reason: because Govt could not design an effective "Communication Strategy" https://t.co/jUBWkNEkia via @YouTube
— Moeed Pirzada (@MoeedNj) June 14, 2020
Dr. Pirzada also said that it was ‘unfortunate’ that the court ordered to let the people shop before Eid.