An employee sanitizes the hands of a customer outside a restaurant in Karachi — open for takeaway and delivery services — during a nationwide lockdown. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

‘Asymptomatic Covid-19 patients can fast during Ramazan’

Fasting helps improve the immune system, prevents neurological problems, say experts

​ Our Correspondent April 20, 2020
KARACHI: Asymptomatic coronavirus patients can fast during the month of Ramazan even if they are diabetic, after consulting their physicians, said medical experts. However, diabetic patients would have to maintain isolation, drink plenty of water after iftar and take medicines regularly, they added.

Baqai Institute of Diabetology and Endocrinology (BIDE), Karachi organised the sixth International Diabetes and Ramazan Online Conference, attended by diabetologists, cardiologists, neurologists and other medical specialists as well as Islamic scholars and ulema from various countries of the world. The experts delivered lectures on safe fasting at a time when the entire world is facing the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking on the second day of the conference, diabetologist Dr Saiful Haq said that there would be hundreds of coronavirus patients in Ramazan who would be in self-isolation but without experiencing any symptoms of the disease. "Such patients, even if they are diabetics, can fast but they will need to maintain their sugar level either with drugs or insulin," he added.

Dr Haq further said that diabetic patients or people with other such diseases were not more prone to contracting the virus, but they could face complications if they were infected. This includes those who are obese or have other underlying health conditions including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and renal issues.

Meanwhile, Pakistan International Neuroscience Society president Prof Muhammad Wasay stated that fasting was beneficial for the immune system and also helped prevent various neurological problems, including strokes. He advised people to utilise the holy month to attain physical and mental benefits.

Islamic scholar Mufti Taqi Usmani, who also addressed the conference, said that Muslims were looking to health experts for guidance about safe fasting during Ramazan amid the pandemic.

"There are extreme views that people with diabetes and hypertension should not fast while others say otherwise," he stated. "I believe that medical practitioners and health experts are in a better position to advise people whether they should fast or refrain from it."

BIDE patients with diabetes can consult experts for free at the helpline at 0334-3330909, which will be operational around the clock in Ramazan.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2020.


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