ISLAMABAD                  -              While addressing an online press briefing, the nation’s top health official stressed that social distancing needs to be followed and that the “upcoming days are uncertain”.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Health Services (NHS) Dr. Zafar Mirza on Friday said that there is a misconception prevailing among the public that the virus does not affect young people and is only infecting the elderly. “70 percent of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) patients across the country are below the age of fifty,” he said.

People must not miscalculate based on lower estimates as there is still a chance of a rapid spike in cases across the country. “Non-implementation could lead to increasing cases and deaths.”

He said there is another misconception that the virus does not affect the female immune system. While 78 percent of the patients are male, their percentage is higher because of increased social exposure. Dr Mirza revealed that after issuance of guidelines for the use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) the National Operations Command Center (NOCC) is also releasing a video for health professionals to avoid misuse of the equipment.

“The video will have instructions and responsibilities mentioned regarding the use of PPEs,” he said. Dr Zafar Mirza also urged the public to not stigmatize patients infected with COVID-19 and to treat them like normal patients following the necessary preventive measures.

Giving the details of cases in the country he said that in the last 24 hours 248 confirmed cases have been reported in the country; five patients in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), 108 in Punjab, 92 in Sindh, 65 in Khyber Pakthunkhwa (KP), 7 in Baluchistan and 2 in Islamabad.

He also said that the death toll of COVID-19 in the country has reached 67 and four patients died in the last 24 hours. The fatality rate in country is estimated to be 1.46 percent.