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pakistan
Tuesday Mar 17 2020
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Does Pakistan have enough coronavirus test kits?

While federal govt has over 12,000 test kits already, more are being procured from WHO, China and local labs — File photo

On Monday, the state-run China Global Television Network tweeted that China had sent emergency assistance to Pakistan to combat coronavirus, which included 12,000 test kits, 300,000 face masks, and $4 million to build hospitals.

“With one test kit around 90 patients can be tested in one go,” Dr. Muhammad Salman, the focal person for coronavirus at the National Institute of Health, the government-run medical research center, told Geo.tv. “But it varies from kit to kit. So there is no exact number.”

A senior health official in Islamabad, who asked not be named, added that between 50 to 90 patients can be tested using a single kit.

While the federal government has over 12,000 test kits already, more are being procured from the World Health Organization (WHO), China and local private laboratories, adds Dr. Salman.

On Monday, the WHO's director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told reporters that the international organization has shipped almost 1.5 million tests to 120 countries. “We have a simple message for all countries: Test, test, test, every suspected case,” Ghebreyesus told reporters.

Talking to Geo.tv, Dr Zaeem Zia, the district health officer in Islamabad, explained that while the federal government has enough test kits in stock, more are being bought from international markets. “Plus, provinces are buying their own kits to check suspected cases.” Zia added that in Islamabad they have tested at least 1,000 suspected patients to date.

Punjab: As per Dr Haroon Jahangir, the director general health services in Punjab, the province of 110 million has 1,100 coronavirus test kits, he said speaking to Geo.tv.

Sindh: Adviser to the Sindh Chief Minister on law Barrister Murtaza Wahab said that the provincial government received 200 kits, which were equally divided between Aga Khan University Hospital and Dow University of Health Sciences (Ojha campus).

On Sunday, Sindh’s chief minister told reporters that the province has imported 10,000 kits for testing.

How do the tests work?

Health experts say there are two ways to test for the novel infection: either you swab a person’s throat or blood is drawn and sent to a laboratory for diagnostics.