Wednesday May 29, 2024

Young people form majority of coronavirus cases in Pakistan: Dr Zafar Mirza

By Shahina Maqbool
March 26, 2020

Islamabad: Contrary to the disease trend in China, where cases have been the highest among elderly people aged 65 years and above, a majority of the 1,022 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Pakistan constitutes young people falling in the age bracket of 21-30 years.

“Twenty-four percent of the confirmed cases in Pakistan so far are between 21 to 30 years of age. This constitutes a majority of the cases. The pattern is unlike other countries where cases mostly comprise older people,” the PM’s Special Assistant on Health Dr Zafar Mirza informed during his televised media briefing on Wednesday.

Although the SAPM did not share a complete picture of coronavirus trend in Pakistan, one can conclude that no age group is immune to the virus — the young and the old are equally susceptible to contracting the disease.

Moreover, new evidence from the United States and Europe also draws attention towards young adults falling extremely sick because of coronavirus. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 705 of the first 2,500 coronavirus cases in the United States were aged 20-44 years. However, complications and ICU admissions among younger people are relatively lower as compared to the older age bracket.

Talking to ‘The News,’ Chief Epidemiologist at the National Institute of Health Dr Rana Safdar said, “The fact that Pakistan has a higher young population as compared to China and many other affected countries, explains why a majority of the confirmed cases in Pakistan constitute young adults.”

Presenting further analysisof data as the number of confirmed cases in Pakistan crossed the 1,000 mark, the SAPM added that local transmission of the virus stands at 7 percent, meaning that 93 percent of the confirmed patients contracted the disease in countries already affected by it. Men account for 64 percent of the case, with 36 percent being women.

Dr Zafar shared that 5,225 people are currently isolated in quarantine facilities across Pakistan. Of these, 23 percent have tested positive, while all others are being sent back to their homes with explicit instructions for protection. Commenting on this, Dr Rana added that many suspected patients who were screened in quarantine facilities tested positive with a little or no symptoms.

The SAPM revealed that as an experiment, the government conducted laboratory tests of all 141 passengers on board a flight that arrived from Doha with passengers stranded in transit after the country suspended its international flight operations. “It is heartening to share that all 141 tests are negative,” he stated. Special lodging arrangements were made for the passengers till their results were received.

Presenting a break-up of the national count, Dr Zafar said that Sindh remains worst affected with 413 cases, followed by Punjab (310), Balochistan (117), Gilgit-Baltistan (81), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (80), Islamabad (20), and AJK (1). Of the 1,022 cases, 21 have fully recovered, five are in critical condition, and 8 have died of the disease thus far.

Pakistan has received from China, 500,000 N-95 masks for use by health professionals engaged in the treatment and management of COVID-19 patients; a massive consignment of personal protective equipment from China is expected to arrive on March 27, the SAPM informed.

Dr Zafar said that the second meeting of the National Coordination Committee on COVID-19 will be held today (Thursday) under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Imran Khan. The meeting will review progress on implementation of decisions taken by the National Security Committee.

It will devise a roadmap for the coming days in light of the changing situation. The SAPM stated that a parliamentary leaders’ committee has been constituted to review measures, and that a group of experts has been tasked to pen the said committee’s terms of reference.

Dr Zafar expressed deep concern over non-compliance of social distancing instructions in some parts of Pakistan. “Sindh, Punjab, KP and Balochistan have instituted stricter measures because of poor compliance. People were moving about in their respective cities despite appeals to the contrary. This is extremely concerning. No matter how hard the government tries, we cannot win this war until people act responsibly. Please follow our instructions to contain the spread of coronavirus,” he remarked.