Friday, April 10, 2020

Welfare works gather momentum

By Zaib Azkaar Hussain 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

In order to prevent spread of the viral disease (COVID-19 pandemic), the Sindh government has imposed a strict lockdown in the entire province. In fact almost all the cities and towns of the country have locked down for the past few days. 

Of course it is in the larger interest of the citizens to stay at homes and avoid meetings and gatherings. To maintain social distance is the order of the day which is the only way to get rid if this deadly epidemic. 

However the ongoing social distancing and lockdown have led to other social problems and crisis for the citizens. Many organizations and unions have become active to meet the challenge and they are doing a commendable service.

Interesting and appreciable way to serve people has been evolved by the Arts Council of Pakistan (ACP), Karachi, whose President, Muhammad Ahmed Shah, has been energetic and proactive in the days of crisis, having taken the initiative to announce distribution of ration bags to its members.

The ACP members were messaged to send their addresses and as the members responded, they were provided ration bags. 

It has been learnt that around 1,000 members have been provided ration bags so far. A big counter has also been set up at the premises of the ACP, under the supervision of Ahmed Shah. 

He himself, alongwith his team that includes office-bearers and governing body members, could be seen dispatching ration bags to members. 

Moreover, the trend is being followed by other organisations dealing writing, art, culture and journalism. The office-bearers of the Karachi Press Club (KPC), President Imtiaz Khan Faran, Secretary Armaan Sabir and others have also undertaken the task to provide sufficient ration to the members of the club and a large number of members have been provided ration bags.

On the other hand, the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJs) is also serving its members in this regard. It has been learnt that including the KUJ (Burna Group), headed by President Ahmed Malik, the KUJ (Dastoor Group) and several other unions are providing assistance and visiting the houses of their members to present them with ration bags. 

The unions have have made special transport arrangements (hiring cars and small trucks) to deliver the ration bags to their members at their doorsteps an d certainly their zeal and efforts are very commendable.

Halqaa-e Arbaab-e Zauq’s online sittings gain ground

By Zaib Azkaar Hussain
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

The online literary meetings of the Halqaa-e Arbaab-e Zaqu (HAZ), Karachi, have been gaining popularity among writers and scholars of different countries. 

These meetings are essentially being arranged through 'Zoom Cloud video conference' and attended not only but local writers but are also being joined by scholars, writers and poets from different parts of the country and different cities of foreign countries. 

A recent weekly sitting discussed creations of three writers who joined the meeting by online appearance and the participants including, the president of the meeting and other guests, brought to light the qualities and shortcomings through online appearances. 

The HAZ's separate meetings also discuss the books and collections of other creative works by numerous writers, journalists and photographers, playwrights, directors, artistes and directors. 

The HAZ has arranged traditional sittings (Mushaira) of poets in order to providing them an opportunity to recite their poetry. 

At a similar online sitting chaired by a prominent poet Shahzad Nayyar was attended was attended by Zahid Hussain Zahid Jauhari, who was chief guest on the occasion, Rehana Roohi, Shagfuta Shafiq, Najma Usman, Asghar Khan, Kamran Mughal, Asif Ali Asif, Kashif Ali Hashmi, Sarah Mehboob, Shahid Naqvi, Qamar Javed, Afzal Hazarvi, Surria Hayya, Faiqa Erum, Urooj Asif, Sajida Sultana, Humera Gul Tashna and others. 

Most of the poets presented poetry on prevalent situation and fears and apprehensions on the viral disease of coronavirus, killing a large number of people across the globe. 

A few other meetings thoroughly discussed the poetry work and prose work of different writers and journalists and photographers including Khalid Danish, Muhammad Asghar Khan and Khawaja Muhammad Azam and Rehana Roohi. 

The speakers including presidents of meetings Akram Kunjahi, Zahid Hussain Zahid Jauhari, Khalid Moin, Sajida Sultana, Humera Gul Tashna, Urooj Asif, Kashif Ali Hashmi, Sammaan Hussain, Sarah Mehboob, Naaz Arif Naaz, Sikandar Ali Rind and others threw light on the art of those who were recognized at the meeting by holding 'an evening' in their honour. 

An 'Urdu Khaaka' was presented by Asghar Khan on the art of Khalid Danish and a recorded message from renowned poet and critic Professor Sahar Ansari was conveyed to meeting that paid glowing tributes to Asghar Khan. 

Similarly another message from famous poet and scholar Ghulam Ali Wafa was conveyed in honour of Rehana Roohi that paid glowing tributes to Roohi for her meaningful Urdu poetry. Sajida Sultana read her Urdu 'khaaka' while praising Asghar Khan for his humorous writings and poetry. 

Faisal Josh who was chief guest at the meeting paid rich tributes to prominent photo-journalist Khawaja Muhammad Azam for his artistic work. 

Khalid Danish in his two different poems (written in 'sana'at e tosheh' eulogized the distinguished services of Muhammad Ahmed Shah rendered in the field of art and culture. 

Kamran Mughal presented his Urdu 'khaaka' on the work and literary role of Asghar Khan and highlighted his qualities and demerits on writings. 

At a tanqeedi nashist, Dr Shahid Zamir who presided over the meeting, threw light on three creations presented by Humera Gul Tashna (an Urdu poem titled 'Wajd'), an Urdu short story titled 'Wehdatul Shahood' by Sameena Mushtaq and an Urdu 'ghazal' by Dr Ambareen Hina Tariq and declared the creations as remarkable. Zahid Hussain Zahid Jauhari and Asif Ali Asif also termed the three creations as excellent works. 

At an earlier sitting Dr Xaigham Zamaan, who presided over the meeting, and Dr Arshad Rizvi, who was chief guest, appreciated Iffat Naveed for her short story depicting the role of a youngster collecting garbage while without caring of cornavirus disease. 

Mir Ahmed Naveed, a prominent poet, also attended the meeting and commended Iffat Naveed for her latest Urdu short story that painted the life of a weak character in words.

Private hospitals reluctant to admit COVID-19 patients

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The private hospitals in Karachi have expressed their reservations over the government’s demand for reserving 10 percent of their beds for treatment of coronavirus infected patients and suggested to the authorities to first utilize the public sector facilities to the optimum. 

The President of the Private Hospitals and Clinics Association (PHCA), Dr Syed Junaid Ali Shah, in a statement issued on April 9, noted that the private hospitals were together with the government in its war against coronavirus but were against the idea of mixing regular patients with corona patients at hospitals. 

“It will be unfair as Italy, France and UK have also said that it was their mistake to mix the corona patients with others,” he added and elaborated the point of view further by questioning how 10 percent of intensive care units could be given to corona patients. 

“Most hospitals have one ICU and if one goes with the government’s requirement then it will mean nine regular patients and one corona patients in a 10 bed ICU,” the PHCA President said.

Earlier during the day a meeting of the committee named ‘Private Hospitals Core Committee on Covid-19’ was held with the Sindh Minister for Health, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, also the Chairperson of the committee, in the chair. According to the PHCA press release, Dr Salman Faridi of Liaquat National Hospital, Dr Asim Hussain of Dr Ziauddin Hospital, Dr Abdul Bari Khan of the Indus Hospital, Dr Sadia Rizvi of South City Hospital Dr Zerkais Anklesaria and Dr Aijaz Ahmed Khanzada, Chief Technical Advisor for Secretary Health attended the meeting. 

It was decided that a control and command center will be made by the Sindh government under Dr Abdul Bari and the private hospital will provide consultants in special fields and be available to this control and command center. 

It was observed at the meeting that there are already 1,000 beds available at the government disposal for the accommodation of the corona patients and as such all hospitals should not be infected while other patients also needed urgent care with majority of them being elderly. 

The private side said that once the 2,200 beds including Indus Hospital, Dow International and AKU as well as field isolation center became full of corona patients then other hospitals should be enlisted by the government after providing them with necessary safety equipment and medicines for coronavirus cases. 

The private sector assured that they will provide both equipment and manpower support as needed once the Sindh government faced shortage of beds. 

The meeting decided that a portal in the health department of Sindh will be created by the focal person on Coronavirus, Dr Abdul Bari and a complete handbook of COVID-19 prevention and treatment of the Sindh government will be posted in three parts, prevention and control management, diagnosis and treatment and nursing and consulting services, the press release added.

DUHS researchers working on COVID-19

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The researchers at the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) have explored natural mutations which, according to them, can withstand the novel coronavirus in human genes.

The experts associated with the DUHS’ Dow College of Biotechnology (DCB) reckoned that the recent research will help to determine/allocate the medical resources for the global outbreak of the coronavirus.

“The coronavirus, due to the identified mutations in the human gene can be ineffective in the human body,” a group of doctors working under the supervision of Dr Mushtaq Hussain, DCB Vice-Principal, stated. 

According to the DUHS press release, Dr Mushtaq Hussain and his team, including Dr Nusrat Jabeen, Fozia Raza, Sanya Shabbir, Ayesha Ashraf Baig, Anusha Amanullah and Basma Aziz,, has discovered mutations in the ACE2 gene/protein of thousands of humans via genomic data mining. 

It was disclosed that this research has recently been published in the International magazine of Virology, Journal of Medical Virology. 

The researchers in their meeting with DUHS Vice Chancellor, Prof Dr M Saeed Quraishy apprised him of the scientific work and remarked that the human genomes of individuals from China, Latin America and some European countries were included in the data mining. 

“ACE2 (angiotensin converting enzyme 2) protein is a molecule to which SARS-CoV-2, causative agent of COVID-19, binds at the very initial phase of the infection, the vice chancellor was informed.  
By extensive structural modeling and docking techniques, the researchers predicted that two mutations, S19P and E329G, in ACE2 may make humans (with these mutations) naturally resistant to COVID-19 infection.

“Screening of COVID-19 patients for the presence of these mutations will in turn help in predicting the prognosis of the disease and allocation of the limiting resources,” the researchers noted. 

In the meantime, DUHS VC has said that at Dow University, research is being carried out on COVID-19 on various aspects, and researchers were getting positive results. He hoped that such efforts will help save human beings from the global coronavirus epidemic.

Coronavirus Update: Sindh tops in terms of deaths

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Sindh, with 21 confirmed deaths, topped among the provinces which have commutatively reported so far 63 deaths among 4,489 coronavirus patients till April 9. 

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, confirmed the 21st death in the province on April 9 in his routine video message, observing that the Sindh government was worried about Covid-19 cases being now reported in slums and disadvantaged areas of Karachi. 

One person from a family, living in a slum area in the central district of Karachi, had gone out and contracted the infection, the chief minister revealed, adding that the person transmitted the virus to other six members including a one-year-old boy and six-year-old girl. 

According to the official data, Sindh reported on average 1.53 deaths every day since March 28 when it announced its second corona related death. Sindh is followed by Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa (20 deaths among 360 cases), Punjab (17 deaths among 2,241) and Balochistan (2 deaths among 212 cases). Gilgit Baltistan and Islamabad Capital Territory have reported three and one corona related deaths respectively so far. 

The Provincial Disease Surveillance and Response Unit in a report update on April 9 said that the ratio between confirmed deaths and corona cases was 1.7 (890 Covid-19 cases and 16 deaths) in Sindh. Fifteen (94%) of the deaths were of males and 1 (6.2%) of female. 

The report said that the COVID-19 deaths were reported mostly among the age group 60-69 years (6, 37%) followed by age group 70-79 years (5, 26%). The highest number of the deaths was reported from the Karachi division (14, 88%). 

Discussing the comorbidities among the deceased patients of corona in Sindh, the surveillance and response unit said that 14 (88%) of the deaths were reported with comorbidities. The most frequent comorbidity was hypertension (11, 68%) followed by diabetes mellitus (9, 56%). 

According to the report, the COVID-19 cases were reported mostly among the age group 20-29 years (219, 21%) followed by age group 30-39 years (200, 19%). As many as 730 (70%) of the COIVD-19 cases were male and 324 (30%) female. 

The highest number of the cases was reported from the Karachi division and Sukkur, mainly due to the presence of Iran pilgrims in quarantine. 

About the transmission pattern of COVID-19 the report said that the highest number of cases have had travel history (74, 54%, while the remaining were divided into local transmission with known source and unknown source. 

In the meantime, the Sindh health department updates on corona said that 92 new infections were confirmed in 642 tests conducted in 24 hours ending at 8am on April 9, taking the tally of overall corona infection to 1,128. Karachi reported 74 new infections, followed by Khairpur (14) Hyderabad (3) and Shaheed Benazirabad (1). 

Khairpur became the 20th district of Sindh to be infected with Covid-19. However, the officials did not provide any information about gender, age, residence and hospital of the deceased patients, despite requests.

President Arif Alvi lauds China for fighting coronavirus successfully

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan’s President Dr Arif Alvi has lauded China for successfully controlling coronavirus and commended both the countries for their cooperation to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic. 

He expressed these views when a group of Chinese medical experts called on him at the President House in Islamabad on April 9. 

According to the details shared by the Chinese embassy in Islamabad, Ambassador Yao Jing and Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood were also present on the occasion. 

The President remarked that since the outbreak of the New Coronary Pneumonia, China and Pakistan have been helping and supporting each other besides working together to respond jointly.

"During mid-March, I visited China where I had fruitful meetings and talks with President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders,” he recalled. 

China has successfully brought down the epidemic in little over two months. 

It was also reported to have notified the World Health Organization (WHO) and other countries when the epidemic started, which allowed time to the rest of the world for preemptive measures. 

China has been assisting Pakistan with a large amount of anti-epidemic materials, having also sent a medical team to Pakistan to help and guide the anti-epidemic work, which fully reflected China's all-weather strategic cooperative partnership and the profound and tested friendship. 

It is being believed that with the help of China, Pakistan will eventually overcome the epidemic without too much damage. 

Ma Minghui, the leader of the expert group, said that in accordance with the spirit of President Xi Jinping ’s important instructions and the consensus of the leaders of the two countries, the Xinjiang Autonomous Region established a medical expert group for Pakistan. 

The experts from China and Pakistan exchanged their experience in epidemic prevention. In the past 10 days, the expert group visited Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and other places, inspected dozens of hospitals in the federal and local areas, and conducted face-to-face meetings with many experts from Pakistan, beside holding a video conference. 

Through the inspections and interactions, the Chinese expert team had a deeper understanding of the Pakistani epidemic prevention work and made some targeted suggestions.

Coronavirus peak yet to come: expert

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Prof Dr Abdul Bari Khan, CEO of the Indus Hospital and a member of Sindh CM Task force on coronavirus, has opined that the outbreak’s peak was yet to be witnessed. 

The disturbing thing, he pointed out in a television interview, was that the corona infected patients were being brought to hospitals in severe health condition, adding that his hospital was treating eight while the Aga Khan Hospital (AKU) was treating four such patients. 

He further said that the provincial corona task force has also recommended acquisition of data from caretakers of graveyards across the city which may help know about unreported corona cases, if any, and assess the situation truly. 

On the other hand, Adviser to Prime Minister Dr Zafar Mirza said that the coming two or three weeks could be very crucial in the context of coronavirus. The number of overall cases was reducing but there was a need to ensure more precautionary measures, he added.

KMC sets up filter clinic in Landhi

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

Karachi’s Mayor Wasim Akhtar inaugurated a 24/7 filter clinic for suspected patients of coronavirus and other facilities to treat the positive cases at the Cardiac Emergency Centre in Landhi-2 on April 8.

He took a round of isolation ward, disclosing that 12 doctors and 40 paramedics would be performing duties at the hospital. 

“This hospital would cater the need of hundreds of thousands of people of Landhi, Korangi, Shah Faisal Colony, Ibrahim Haidery, Future Colony and adjacent areas,” he stated. 

He informed that the KMC was trying to establish more filter clinics so that the coronavirus could be diagnosed at early stages. 

The Karachi Mayor directed that SOP should be devised for the patients coming to filter clinics and the doctors should ensure their safety first. He also handed precautionary kits for doctors and paramedics to the hospital management. 

On the occasion, he disclosed that the hospital under administrative control of the KMC have a total 89 ventilators, out of which 69 were functional while the remaining 20 ventilators will be fixed and provided for patients soon.

Hospitals advised to operate OPDS

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Sindh Health Minister, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, has asked the all government hospitals to reopen their outpatient departments (OPDs). 

On April 8, she was chairing a video conference, attended by the medical superintendents (MS) of the hospitals and vice-chancellors of medical universities in Sindh. 

She advised that the hospitals, unable to operate their OPDs, may attend to patients through telemedicine. 

In the meantime, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) complaining about inadequate supply of protective gears in the case of healthcare has noted that such items were being misused. 

In a statement, the doctors’ body said that these days politicians and bureaucrats are often seen wearing N-95 facemasks during their meetings and visits, whereas health professionals are facing dire shortage of N-95 mask and personal protection equipment. 

“This is important to note that N-95 mask is not necessary for everybody. This is only needed in the quarantine and isolation facilities for the health providers treating coronavirus patients, who are at the highest risk of acquiring coronavirus,” the PMA official added.

Pakistan, China armies hold video moot

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Chinese and Pakistani armies had in-depth discussion, shared experiences and strategies how to combat, prevent and control the new coronary pneumonia. Both sides shared anti-epidemic experiences and vowed to work together to fight against the epidemic.

Around 20 personnel from the military health departments of China and Pakistan, including experts in clinical, detection, prevention and control related fields, held video sharing sessions on the prevention and control of new coronary pneumonia in Beijing, Wuhan and Rawalpindi. 

“To begin with, China first threw light on the overall situation and experience of the Chinese army’s epidemic prevention and control work, new coronary pneumonia detection technology methods, main points and diagnosis besides treatment plans”, the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad disclosed, quoting the sources from Defense Ministry. 

It further elaborated that the two sides subsequently focused on the exchange of emergency command coordination, epidemic prevention and control, monitoring and detection, clinical treatment and other topics.

Combined with case analysis, the strategies for treatment of critical patients and infection control were discussed in depth. 

The Pakistan side thanked China for sharing the epidemic prevention and treatment experience for the first time, highly appreciating the Chinese military’s proactive efforts to participate in epidemic prevention and control. 

They congratulated China on achieving important achievements in combating the new coronary pneumonia epidemic. 

They expressed greatly admiration for the Chinese people and their leadership for successfully controlling the virus and sharing their experiences. 

It was the first video conference to be organized by the Chinese military to share experience in the prevention and control of new coronary pneumonia outbreaks with foreign military. 

In the next step, the Chinese military will uphold the concept of serving to build a community of human destiny, strengthen international cooperation in the fight against epidemics with the military of other countries concerned, in order to work together to combat the epidemic situation, maintain international health security and to continue their innovative contributions in order to ensure building better human health as well as a health community.