LAHORE            -        The Corona Expert Advisory Group (CEAG) Chairman Dr Mahmood Shaukat on Monday prohibited the use of medicines without doctors’ prescription.

“This medicine (Actemra) is only to be used in specific conditions because there is no theoretical and academic background of its usage for the cure of coronavirus patients,” he said, while addressing a press briefing. Regarding the use of anti-viral drugs, he said, “We have taken measures to avoid preventable deaths, which may increase if people use anti-viral drugs like Dexamethasone. Regarding the smart lockdown, Professor Mahmood Shaukat said that the strategies varied, depending on situation on the ground. “There is no rule of thumb and we have to think according to our own demographic realities. We have the capacity of testing 12,000 persons for the province of 12 crore people. Now we have to decide how to use these 12 thousand efficiently,” he said, and added, “If we do random sampling of 12,000 people, we might identify 200 Covid-19 cases. It all depends on our resources.” “We are not following random sampling in the cities where we have imposed smart lockdowns. After accessing the level of infection transmission, we will decide whether to finish or prolong the smart lockdowns in selective eight cities of Punjab,” he added.

Prof Mahmood Shaukat informed that 153 ventilators are still available in Lahore. “So, the patients are advised to contact 1122 for medical assistance because they will take you to the hospital where ventilators are still available,” Shaukat counseled.

“The COVID-9 patients sometimes do not get beds at hospitals because more than 100 ambulances are busy bringing them to the hospitals, resulting in the occupation of the beds before the ambulance that had booked the bed reaches the hospital,” he said, and added, “We will work on our data entry system regarding available facilities at hospitals and will make sure routine errors are not repeated. We are also working on complaint portal, and it will be operational very soon.”

Professor Saqib Saeed informed that there was no definite cure for the coronavirus and whatever treatment there was, it was supportive. “Currently, there is a lot of research on different medicines and Actemra is one of them. All licensing of this drug is for investigational purposes,” he told. He further said Punjab Health Department had approved trial of the medicine, and the doses of the drug had been made available at different public sector hospitals for the trial on 570 patients.

Dr Javed Hayyat from PKLI observed that recently a wrong practice of using plasma therapy had been introduced, which was an experimental method. “It can harm the recipient as this is the product of the blood of other human being. Plasma therapy can also transmit other diseases to the patient. It is given to the patients only under special circumstances,” he said, and added, “We will soon be developing a system to address the grievances of those who have sold plasma at excessive prices.”

The Health Department has declared trade of plasma illegal. We have given instructions to Punjab Healthcare Commission and PHOTA (Punjab Human Organs Transplant Authority) for action against those who are claiming 200 ml or 100 ml of plasma for the treatment.

Regarding home isolation policy, Dr Bilqees Anwar informed that the disease had three stages of mild, moderate and severe, adding that home isolation was only for those patients, who had mild or no symptoms. “The patients of moderate stage have some symptoms like fever and body pain but they are not oxygen dependent. The prerequisites for home isolation are: enough space at home, washroom should be separate, if not separate then it should be cleaned after every use, and home isolation is not suitable for the person living alone, with nobody to look after him in case if there is an emergency. In case you are advised home isolation and your health deteriorates, you have to call Rescue 1122 immediately,” Dr Bilqees said. Secretary P&SHD Capt (r) Muhammad Usman, Dr Somia Iqtadar and others also spoke on the occasion.