Federal Minister for Planning, Development, Reforms and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has said that the coronavirus situation within the country is improving because the number of COVID-19 cases “decrease due to effective measures taken by the govt and a majority of individuals following social distancing guidelines”.
But the statement the minister made while addressing a news conference at the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) last Friday, has been contradicted by the govt itself as its data suggests that COVID-19 cases have declined over the past one week due to low testing rate.
As many as 5,000 to 6,000 cases were being reported on a day to day in Pakistan by mid-June, which had prompted the govt to impose selective lockdowns in several parts of the country, especially Punjab and Sindh, and therefore the number of daily infections has now dropped to 3,000 to 4,000.
While data from June 15 to Saints Peter and Paul shows that the amount of cases reported within the country after June 19 has comparatively been lower, contrary to Umar’s claims, a serious reason behind the drop has been that the amount of tests performed to diagnose COVID-19 across the country also dropped significantly during the said period.
The rate of testing decreased from 31,000 to 20,000 while the target set by the govt to realize in July was the enhancement of Pakistan’s testing capacity to 100,000.
If you check out the statistics, it’s clear that Pakistan has conducted 1,327,638 (1.3 million) tests thus far , while consistent with Worldometers, Pakistan ranks 32nd out of 49 Asian countries in terms of testing capacity. Countries including Iraq, Bhutan, Iran and Maldives have a better testing capacity than that of Pakistan.
According to Punjab health officials, the govt is constant to reinforce testing capacity within the country but the testing rate has dropped because patients are less exposed to the virus amid lockdowns.
“A test is conducted when a suspected patient comes forward after complaining of symptoms or as a part of a random testing drive in hotspots,” they said, adding that both instances had seen a big drop amid lockdown restrictions