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Int’l Expert Says Covid Cases In Pakistan Being ‘Underreported’, Warns Of Spike

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Professor of Applied Economics at Johns Hopkins University Steve Hanke has said that the health authorities of Pakistan are ‘highly under-reporting’ the coronavirus cases, warning the people of the second wave of the virus as they would most likely attend mass gatherings and travel in numbers during the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha and Muharram processions.

According to a news report published in the international news outlet Bloomberg, the expert said it’s difficult to assess the path of the country’s epidemic because its testing rate remains one of the lowest in the world. “The significance of the drop is that cases are likely being highly underreported.”

The report cited a study by the country’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer Getz Pharma which tested 24,210 people in mostly urban workspaces. Its study then extrapolated those findings to the urban, adult, working population of Pakistan and found active Covid-19 infections would likely reach 4.11 million, which is almost 15 times higher than the current tally.

Professor Hanke told the news outlet that the festival of Eidul Azha will draw millions of people into crowded fairs and religious and family gatherings, risking a second wave of the deadly virus which has so far claimed nearly 661,000 lives throughout the globe.

“Masks and social distancing will be abandoned and similar to the Chinese New Year in Wuhan, Eidul Azha could become a cataclysmic event for Pakistan and the region,” he added.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s medical associations and health experts have also long warned that low testing and lack of data means there is an underbelly of virus cases that don’t appear in official figures.

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The report quoted epidemiologist Wajiha Javed, head of public health and research at Getz Pharma, as saying: “The initial peak was two weeks post-Eidul Fitr and we may expect the second peak at two weeks post the second Eid.”

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