ISLAMABAD-Senior physicians and consultants on Saturday expressed concerns on the ‘relaxed lockdown’ by government and stressed a strict enforcement of lockdown and prevention of congregations of all sorts to contain the rapid spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA) and Young Consultants Association (YCA) of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) held separate press briefings here urging government to tighten the lockdown.

Prof. Muhammad Iqbal Khan; Vice Chancellor ShifaTameer e Millat University Dr. Iftikhar Burney; President Pakistan Islamic Medical Association Islamabad Brig (Retd)Asif Nawaz, President PIMA Rawalpindi and Dr. Fazle Rabbi, President Young Doctors Association Islamabad addressed the conference here.

The physicians and representatives from Pakistan Islamic Medical Association and other doctor’s bodies expressed deep concerns over the current COVID-19 situation in the country and on the measures taken by government on relaxing the lockdown especially in time when it is most needed.

Commenting about the current situation, they said that week wise data suggests an exponential increase in number of patients. We have seen a rapid increase in numbers in just five days (8,275 on April 20, to 11,155 on April 24,): an increase of 2,880 patients.

Speakers said that the reality is that we are better off primarily because of the lockdown since early days, even though it could have been better.

At present, the number of patients in the intensive care and isolation wards in different hospitals is increasing rapidly across the country and in many places the number has increased to more than 80 per cent.

They further said in fact, severity is much more than we think of. The healthcare workers (HCW) have themselves fallen ill due to COVID-19 itself. More than 162 HCWs have been tested positive in the country.

Many more have been sidelined because of the quarantine. This rapid reduction in manpower needed to combat the storm will add on to the grave problem we are facing right now.

The said that PIMA and doctors’ community demands a strict enforcement of lockdown and prevention of congregations of all sorts to contain the rapid spread of COVID-19. The government should take this responsibility.

They also said the business community should bear the hardship for few more weeks by closing departmental stores, shops and shopping centers except those of basic necessities. Alternative modes of business should be explored and used.

They further urged religious scholars from all sects to understand that saving lives is of foremost importance in this pandemic. They should endorse the need to keep common people away from congregation in mosques.

“Almost all the Islamic countries have closed the mosques including Haramain, for the time being. Taraweeh can be offered at home,” they said.

Meanwhile, Chairman YCA PIMS Dr. Asfandyar Khan in a press talk also urged government for strict lockdown saying that the lockdown has controlled the number of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the country.

He said “non-implementation on strict lockdown will worsen the situation.”

Chairman YCA said that government should review itsdecision of relaxing the lockdown as the country’s health system does not have capacity to sustain the pressure.

He also demanded from government to ensure health professional allowance for doctors and staff.

“We reject one basic salary as health allowance and demand from government to increase it and ensure its availability during the pandemic,” he said.