Covid 19, National News

Punjab approves trial of Actemra drug on 1,000 critical COVID-19 patients

LAHORE: Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid says Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has recently approved for the trial of the injectable drug Actemra on 1,000 COVID-19 severe patients.

Addressing a press conference at the Chief Minister Secretariat, she said the trials of different medicines were underway across the globe. “In Pakistan, we are also conducting the trial of medicine Acterma,” she said.

Responding to a query, the health minister said that only one company was manufacturing Acterma injection and the government had discussed with the firm to bring down the price of full treatment of a patient to Rs 102,000.

“The company had been stopped from providing the injection to private hospitals without the government approval,” she added.

“Punjab Healthcare Commission would supervise the enforcement,” she said.

“One patient will be given 400ml [of injection] in 24 hours, and the next dose will be given in the next 24 hours,” the minister explained, warning that without the trials and examining the results, the use of the injection could be harmful to the patients.

“So far only three in every ten patients at the ICU are reporting an improvement,” the minister said.

She warned that the government would take action against the companies selling the injection at more than its approved price.

Meanwhile, a record 48 patients of Covid-19 died during the last 24 hours across Punjab, taking the virus death toll to 773 in the province.

Dr Yasmin said 9,023 tests were conducted during the last24 hours in Punjab.

She said Lahore was the worst affected district of the province with 19,299 patients, while one-third of them had already recovered.

“The number of patients increased manifold due to the carelessness of people and for lack of compliance with the SOPs,” she said.

The government, as a last resort, proposed action against the people violating the SOPs, she added.

“Around 75 per cent of the patients are from the 50 plus age group,” the health minister said, denying the reports of a shortage of beds and ventilators in the government hospitals of Punjab. She said the patients might not be sent to the hospitals of their choice in the current situation.

The treatment was being provided to the Covid-19 patients on 53pc of the beds in the high dependency units (HDUs) of Punjab; she claimed while clarifying that in all government hospitals, all necessary facilities were available for corona patients.

Similarly, she said, in intensive care units (ICUs), treatment was currently being provided to Covid19 patients on 52pc of the beds.

A Central Control Room had been set up at the Mayo Hospital for providing information and guidance to the patients, their families and Rescue 1122 officials.

“The government has scaled up the testing capacity from 1,200 [tests] in March to 9,000 now, and it is also committed to implementing the SOPs,” she said.

She said some areas in Punjab might face a complete lockdown and its formal approval could be sought from the cabinet in the next few days. Answering a question, she endorsed the WHO recommendation of two-week strict lockdown In Punjab.

Dr Yasmin said that so far 609 doctors, 223 nurses, 107 paramedical staff and 228 other employees had been affected by the disease, taking the total number of the affected health professionals to 1,177 in Punjab.

The overall recovery rate among the healthcare professionals was reported ‘very good,’ the minister concluded.

-MN Report

June 10, 2020

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