1 April 2020
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The news that scanners that are being brought into Pakistan from China can tell if you have the coronavirus is false, said scientist Dr Atta ur Rahman.

On Thursday (March 26), the chief of the National Disaster Management Authority had said that scanners are being imported from China that will tell if a person has COVID-19 or not.

Dr Rahman, however, said that there was some confusion regarding this. “These machines can only detect body temperature and tell if you have a fever,” Dr Rahman clarified on SAMAA TV’s programme Naya Din on Friday.

Pakistan, like every other country, has been taking precautionary measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak across the country. Masks, scanners and testing kits are being imported so that more people can be tested for the virus.

According to Dr Rahman, researchers and scientists across the country are also working on the development of locally produced ventilators. “Two models of ventilators we developed have been shortlisted during a meeting of the Pakistan Engineering Council,” he said.

We are now waiting for approval from regulatory bodies such as the Drug Regulatory Authority Pakistan and the National Disaster Management Authority, the scientist said. “Once we get the permissions, development of the models will start and they will be sent to hospitals.”

Dr Rahman said that usually the procedure takes around six weeks but given to the coronavirus outbreak, he is trying to carry out the procedures quickly.

Additionally, clinical trials of medicines for the virus are also expected to start soon. “Trials of existing medicines such as the chloroquine will be conducted on coronavirus patients,” the scientist said.

He said that a small percentage of patients have died within two days of showing symptoms of the virus. “This can be dangerous and we want to check if the virus has mutated in some people,” he said.

Scientist have, therefore, started research on the genome structure of the virus at the University of Karachi.

Dr Rahman has also requested the Sindh government to allow centres conducting COVID-19 research to remain open so that discoveries are made as soon as possible.

Abdul Gh Lone