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‘Covid Cases Have Declined Because Masses Are Avoiding Hospital Visits’

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The misconception of masses about the coronavirus is among the strongest reasons behind a perceived reduction in the number of cases, Registrar Covid-19 Ward, PIMS, Dr Fazal Rabbi has said.

“There is a strong misconception in our area that hospitals use toxic injections to kill them as they need to increase the number of fatalities,” Dr Rabbi quoted a man as saying during a phone call from Jamshoro recently.

He added that there are three factors behind the reduction in the number of cases, saying the public misconception about the healthcare system is the strongest of all. He opined that the misconception is not a result of usual public fear, but is an organised propaganda against the healthcare system.

“The second factor is linked with our culture,” he said and added that when people realised that the government was not returning the bodies for burial, they stopped visiting the hospitals. “They keep patients at homes and arrange equipment such as oxygen cylinders to treat them.”

The third factor, Dr Rabbi said, is that the public has now become fearless. “They don’t take the virus seriously,” he added. “When we talk about Islamabad, then the smart lockdown played an important role in reducing the cases.” However, he said, there is still a need of precautions to prevent the surge in the cases.

Nadeem Chaudhry, an Islamabad-based reporter covering the health sector for the past 20 years, said the number of cases has not started to reduce, rather the government has reduced its testing capacity.

Earlier, an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 tests were being conducted on a daily basis but now, the testing capacity has been reduced to 20,000 to 25,000, he added. Nadeem went on to say that by reducing the testing capacity, the government is allegedly trying to give an impression that the smart lockdown strategy has been effective.

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Tanvir Shahzad, another senior journalist covering the sector for the past 30 years, observed that the credibility of facts and figures announced by the government has always been ‘doubtful’ and the same contributed to a rise in public misconception regarding the pandemic. He asserted that independent experts and medical organisations don’t endorse the government’s point of view.

On one hand, he said, government failed to run an effective awareness campaign to remove public misconceptions, while on the other hand, it created fear among masses that led to people avoid hospital visits. The senior journalist added that the pandemic is continuously affecting people, but the deaths are not being counted.

The state, Shahzad maintained, has left the common man alone, adding that effective health facilities are available for those who have references of influential people.

Municipal Corporation Islamabad (MCI) Director General Health Services, Dr Hassan Orooj said multiple factors are behind the drop in the Covid cases, including decreased involvement of people in the testing. He added that earlier, people were rushing to the city’s hospitals but now, the trend has changed. Dr Orooj confirmed that one of the reasons behind the low number of testing was the fear among the masses.

General Manager Nayab Labs Islamabad said they were collecting the samples of around 80 suspected patients from their homes till last month, while 30 to 40 people visited laboratories on a daily basis but now, the number of tests is descending. He added that the the total number of tests their laboratory is conducting on a daily basis is around 70. He denied that the charges at the laboratory for the Covid testing is high. According to him, the cases are decreasing day by day.

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An official at Islamabad Diagnostic Center (IDC) also confirmed that the number of testing in the federal capital had reduced. She added that last month, their laboratory conducted around 100 screenings for the virus daily but now, the number has reduced to 70 to 75 a day.

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