ISLAMABAD : Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said on Sunday experts are determining the use of chloroquine for treatment of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Chloroquine, a drug used against malaria, is available in abundance in the country at present, the SAPM said while speaking at a press conference. He added a ban has been imposed on export of the chloroquine medicine and its raw material. There is no evidence suggesting that taking chloroquine will guard people against the coronavirus, he stated in clear terms.
Addressing a press conference here in Islamabad, Dr Zafar Mirza said a programme aimed at imparting necessary training to doctors on handling coronavirus patients will be initiated in a few days. There are a total of 5,650 suspected cases of COVID-19 across the country with 646 coronavirus positive, he said, adding as many as 112 patients tested positive for the disease in the last 24 hours with Sindh reporting the highest number of 292 cases so far. 152 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus in Punjab, 104 in Balochistan, 31 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 55 in Gilgit Baltistan, 11 in Islamabad and one Azad Jammu and Kashmir, the SAPM said. “The data was authentic as it was collected, compiled after consultation and approval from the provinces,” he said and advised media to rely on the official statistics only. “The federal government, provinces and all the stakeholders are working on war footing for safety and well-being of people. All resources are mobilized and measures taken for prevention and mitigation,” Dr Zafar Mirza said.
The special assistant said training for about 5,000 doctors would be arranged as how to deal and treat the people affected by coronavrius.
He advised the citizens to wash hands regularly with soap, besides cleaning surfaces regularly with recommended disinfectants. He also asked the citizens to avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with contaminated hands and practice respiratory hygiene by coughing or sneezing into a bent elbow or tissue and then immediately dispose it off. He said the citizens should wear a medical or surgical mask if they had respiratory symptoms and perform hand hygiene after disposing off the mask. He asked to maintain a minimum of mandatory one meter distance from individuals with respiratory symptoms. He said if the symptoms appeared, doctors or 1166 should be approached immediately. The special assistant said the government had compete data about the availability of chloroquine medicine being used to treat coronavirus patients. “We have information, how many tablets, syrups, injections and raw material is available of chloroquine in the country. We are continually monitoring the situation and one should not worry about it,” he added. He said the government was also in touch with doctors about the use of chloroquine medicine. “We are taking guideline from the professionals, when, how, and for how much time this medicine should be used,” he said. However, he dispelled the impression that chloroquine could be used as a preventive medicine. He said an advisory had been issued that chloroquine should not be sold without doctor’s prescription.