KARACHI: A press conference was recently organized by the experts belonging to the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA), Pakistan Chest Society and Medical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases Society of Pakistan. The meeting held at PMA House, urged the government to ensure that all airports and border entry points should have effective screening systems in place so that no coronavirus patient coming from a high-risk country escapes attention of authorities.
While addressing the media, Experts appealed to shopkeepers selling face masks at high prices that they should avoid taking advantages of public fears over coronavirus and distribute this cheap product, free of cost.
“Both coronavirus patients had returned to Pakistan from Iran by air and apparently [they] were not screened at airport. This reflects government negligence,” said Dr Qaiser Sajjad, adding that prevention was the only way to keep the country safe from any outbreak of this virus.
In this regard, Dr Qaiser referred to countries, such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Singapore, the United States and Australia, which had set up enhanced screening mechanisms at their airports for prevention against the virus.
“The government [should] improve facilities at airports to scan passengers arriving from high-risk countries particularly from China, Thailand, Afghanistan and Iran. If anybody is found with signs of fever, he or she should be quarantined at entry points for 14 days and patients who are tested positive for coronavirus should be kept in isolation facilities at hospitals,” Dr Sajjad added.
According to Qaiser, doctors are also seeing at least 10 to 12 patients of influenza these days and it was important that anybody having symptoms of cold, runny nose, sneezing and cough should stay at home and adopt all preventive measures.
“It’s a viral disease which causes upper respiratory tract infection presenting with symptoms such as fever, runny nose, sneezing, fatigue, sore throat, cough and shortness of breath. If the symptoms of the infection are not treated properly this can lead to lower respiratory tract infection; laryngitis, bronchitis, lungs infection and finally pneumonia which could be fatal,” said Dr Samreen Sarfaraz.
To a question about the use of face masks, the experts explained that only the medical staff examining patients of highly infectious diseases or people having flu-like symptoms should use them and that a distance of at least three feet should be maintained from such patients.
Experts explained that the disease spread via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughed or sneezed. “These droplets could land in the mouths or noses of the people who were nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.”
“While the virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person, it is possible that a person gets the virus touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes,” said Dr Afia Zafar.
Dr Zafaryab emphasised that people with lung infections or weak immune system must adopt precautionary measures against the virus and avoid.