Covid 19, Regional News

Asymptomatic patients of COVID-19 can fast: Experts

KARACHI: COVID-19 patients who have no symptoms of the viral disease and are even diabetics can fast during the upcoming month of Ramadan after consulting their physicians. However, they should practice social distancing, stay at home, drink plenty of water after iftar, and take their medicines regularly, noted national and international experts.

Referring to the Diabetes And Ramadan (DAR) guidelines, national and international health experts said that there are thousands of COVID-19 patients who are asymptomatic and are practicing home isolation across Pakistan and other countries of the world. They can fast safely but are advised to remain in touch with their physicians, take their medicines regularly, and remain hydrated from iftar to suhoor.

They were speaking on the second day of the 6th International Diabetes and Ramadan Online Conference, organized by the Baqai Institute of Diabetology and Endocrinology (BIDE), Karachi.

Leading health experts including diabetologists, cardiologists, neurologists, as well as Islamic scholars and Ulema from various countries of the world participated in the online conference and delivered lectures on safe fasting, especially in the month of Ramadan, which is coming at a time when the entire world is in the grip of pandemic COVID-19.

In his special address to the participants of the international conference, eminent Islamic scholar Mufti Taqi Usmani said this Ramadan was very special, keeping in view the pandemic situation. Muslims across the world were looking towards health experts and practitioners for guidance on safe fasting.

Mufti Taqi Usmani said among those millions of Muslims, there was a large number of people who were suffering from various diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases. Many of them want to fast, but they need both religious as well as medical advice on whether they could fast or not.

“There are extreme views that people with diabetes and hypertension should not fast, while others say they can fast. I believe that medical practitioners and health experts are in a better position to advise people whether they should fast or refrain from it,” said the religious scholar. He praised the organizers for bringing top health experts and religious scholars on one platform to guide the public.

In his address, renowned diabetologist and President of International Diabetes Federation (IDF) MENA-region, Prof Abdul Basit said they were holding this conference regularly for the past several years to guide people as well as health practitioners regarding safe fasting so that they could remain healthy and fit during the month of Ramadan and reap its physical and spiritual benefits.

Prof Basit maintained that this year, the holy month of Ramadan was arriving at a time when people were worried about the COVID-19, while millions of people with diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases also wanted to know whether they could fast if they test positive for the COVID-19 or not. “We have gathered national and international experts to answer most of the questions in the minds of people,” he added.

On occasion, Prof Basit announced that people with diabetes could approach BIDE’s experts on their helpline number (0334-3330909) round the clock during the entire month of Ramadan free of charge and seek medical advice so that they could remain safe and healthy during the holy month.

Another renowned diabetologist, Dr Saiful Haq, while speaking on “COVID-19 and Diabetes/Ramadan Fasting” said that most of the COVID-19 patients remain asymptomatic and do not have any health problem, adding that such patients could fast, but they should remain in contact with their physician and keep themselves hydrated after completing their daily fast.

“When Ramadan starts, there would be hundreds of COVID-19 patients, who would be in self-isolation as they would have no symptoms. Such patients, even if they are diabetics, can keep fast, but they need to maintain their blood sugar levels either with the help of drugs or insulin,” he added.

Dr Saiful Haq maintained that people with diabetes or any other conditions are not more likely to get COVID-19 but added that diabetics as well as those who are obese and have other underlying conditions including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and renal issues, could become seriously ill if they contract the coronavirus.

Renowned neurologist and President of Pakistan International Neuroscience Science Society, Prof Muhammad Wasey, in his lecture said fasting is not only beneficial for the immune system but also helps in the prevention of various neurological conditions including stroke, and advised people to use the holy month to gain maximum benefits, both physical and mental.

Another eminent religious scholar, Mufti Najeeb Khan, said that fasting is obligatory for every Muslim except for those who are seriously sick and those who are traveling but added that for patients, advice of their physician is a must whether they could fast or not.

“I also want to make it clear that donating blood, injecting insulin, checking blood sugar, or getting pure oxygen, is permissible during fasting and does not result in breaking the fast,” Mufti Najeeb added.

Several other experts including Dr Saud Al Sifri from Saudi Arabia, Prof Abdul Jabbar from the United Arab Emirates, Prof M Hassanein from UAE, Prof Mohamed Mafauzy from Malaysia, Dr Khaled Tayyeb from Saudia Arabia, Dr Uzma Khan from the United States, Salma Meher from the United Kingdom, Dr Zahid Miyan and Prof Yakoob Ahmedani from Pakistan also spoke on occasion.

April 22, 2020

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