Dr Zafar Mirza. PHOTO: PID

79% Covid-19 cases in country ‘locally transmitted': Dr Mirza

Dr Zafar Mirza clarifies no coronavirus vaccine being developed in Pakistan

​ Our Correspondent April 26, 2020
ISLAMABAD: State Minister for Health Dr Zafar Mirza on Saturday said 79% of the coronavirus cases in the country now were locally transmitted as the nationwide tally of Covid-19 patients surpassed 12,500.

He also refuted reports that a coronavirus vaccine was being developed in the country.

“It's important to know about this outbreak that now it's mostly of local transmission,” he said at a news conference at the National Command and Control Centre (NOCO) on Covid-19 in the federal capital.

“A few weeks ago, 90% of the patients were those who had come from abroad. But now that number has reduced to 21%.”

The state minister clarified that media reports about Pakistan developing a Covid-19 vaccine were inaccurate.

“There are is a lot of work going on in the world [to develop a vaccine for Covid-19]. There are many initiatives. However, no such initiative is under way at national level in Pakistan.”

Dr Mirza elaborated that a Chinese company, which was in the process of developing a vaccine, had Pakistan and a few other countries offering them to become part of clinical trials. “We have sought more information from them [the company].”

He added that developing a vaccine was a calculated, rigorous process in which experts took safety and ethical aspects into consideration.

The state minister said the government had launched a telemedicine portal on -- telehealth.gov.pk -- that would allow doctors, both in the country and abroad, to give their advice to patients on coronavirus. Doctors can register themselves by accessing the Covid-19 Telehealth Portal.

This portal is in addition to the Yaran-e-Watan initiative launched for overseas health professionals to volunteer their services.

Dr Mirza noted that Covid-19 deaths in the country were constantly rising and urged citizens to take even more precautionary steps during the holy month of Ramazan.

He asked citizens to pray at home and said if somebody wished to go to a mosque, they should follow the 20-point SOPs agreed upon between the government and clerics.

The current coronavirus situation and the measures being adopted to combat the disease were discussed at an NCOC meeting chaired by Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar.

The forum reviewed the implementation of trace and track system, the stocks available at Utility Stories, update on flights and the indigenousness development of critical medical equipment.

The provincial chief secretaries participated in session via video link.

Separately, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal said the country would start conducting 50,000 coronavirus tests per day from next week.

He added that the NCOC had decided that testing kits would be provided to all departments concerned in the country to increase capacity.

“We have only been testing people who are showing symptoms. Now random tests will be carried out.”