ISLAMABAD               -                As the Drugs Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) on Friday decided issuing fast licensing for production of coronavirus (COVID-19) Personal Protection Equipments, the medical experts argued that everyone in country does not need the face mask.

DRAP after banning the export of Personal Protection Equipments (PPEs) for prevention of coronavirus (COVID-19) decided to issue fast track licensing to increase the production of the equipments.

However, the medical experts said that everyone does not need the mask to remain protected from the COVID-19 and the decision will mainly benefit the manufactures.

A statement issued by the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) said that the decision has been taken following the directions of Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) Dr. Zafar Mirza to ensure the availability of PPEs.

It also said that the fast track licensing and registration will enable the manufacturers to get the license on emergency basis to keep the supply of the PPEs for the citizens in the time of emergency.

The notification issued by DRAP said that “Coronavirus has emerged as a threat to the humans in various parts of the world.

Recently two cases have also surfaced in Pakistan. Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has taken the initiative to strengthen the continuous supply of Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) being imported/manufactured in the country and has formulated a mechanism through the introduction of fast track license and registration/enlistments of firms and produce respectively.”

It also said that the interested parties/firms are encouraged to approach the medical devices and medicated cosmetics division, Drugs Regulatory Authority of Pakistan to avail this opportunity. 

Secretary General Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Dr. Qaiser Sajjad said that every citizen does not need a mask to wear in this situation while only the suspects or confirm patients infected with droplet virus needs to wear it.

He said that general public not in contact with the suspect or confirm patients should take preventive measures of keeping themselves clean by washing hands and face.

However, he said that patients suffering with influenza, doctors, paramedic, other medical professionals dealing with the patients need to wear it.

He also said that instead of purchasing expensive masks, a low price mask could be also used for the protection.

He urged government to educate public more about preventive measures than encouraging them to purchase masks.

He also said that people should also be informed about low mortality ratio of COVID-19 as only 2 percent people die of this virus. 

Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA) in its statement issued also said that mask is necessary for the medical professional dealing with the suspects of the virus. It said that so far only two individuals have been confirmed with the virus.

PIMA said that people suffering with normal flue, and cough can also use the mask while public should not get panic as people also face such diseases in the winter season.

It added that the major cause of COVID-19 symptom is that the person would have the travelling history of China or Iran.

PIMA urged that if anyone who travelled China or Iran in last two weeks and has the symptoms of flue, fever and cough must consult with doctor.

However, it said that people who did not visit any of the two countries should not be worried about normal flue and fever.

Earlier, Pakistan Young Pharmacists Association (PYPA) wrote a letter to top government functionaries including Prime Minister alleging that countless number of masks were smuggled with connivance of DRAP officials.

The letter written by PYPA Secretary General Furqan Ibrahim said that “It resulted into severe shortage of face masks throughout Pakistan. Pakistani patients/doctors/nurses are deprived of the face masks in hospitals.”

PYPA urged government to start an inquiry into the allegations and award strict punishment to all accused involved.