Monday, April 20, 2020

Coronavirus Update: Record eight deaths in 24 hours at Karachi

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Amidst reports that the Sindh government was contemplating relaxation during its not so stringent ongoing lockdown, Karachi division of the province reported the highest number of coronavirus related deaths for a day as eight people including a woman of 65 years lost their lives due to the disease in 24 hours ending at 8 am on April 19. 

According to Sindh health department sources, the deceased patients were receiving treatment at public and private hospitals in the city. The ages of men who could not survive COVID-19 ranged from 45 to 80 years. 

A study of the daily summary on coronavirus infections provided by the Sindh health department on April 19 revealed that the diseases had spread to all but four districts of Sindh now. Tharparkar was the latest inclusion after reporting its first corona positive case.

The major chunk of new positive cases, according to the official report, was identified at Karachi’s six districts (132), followed by Larkana (19), Tharparkar (5), Thatta (5), Hyderabad (4), Khairpur (4), Naushehro Feroze (2), Sukkur (2), Umerkot (2), Shikarpur (2), Jacobabad (2), while Dadu, Sanghar, Tando Muhammad Khan, reported one new case each. 

The overall detection of 132 new cases took the provincial tally of corona infected people to 2,544, with 56 deaths, of which 52 were reported from Karachi since March 19 when the first such death was officially confirmed. 

According to data, on average 1.80 deaths took place in a span of 31 days after the day of first coronavirus death. In all 24,438 people including expatriates, pilgrims and tableeghi jamat members have been tested for the virus. 

A keen analyzer noted that the average rate of infection for Sindh ranged from 10.26% to 10.42% in the last three days when government sources claimed of conducting the tests at an extended level.

By generalizing the existing rate of infections over the entire Sindh population, estimated to be 50.5 million, the analysts feared that Sindh was housing over five million people who have already suffered or were suffering from the Corona disease while almost all districts were one after another reporting positive cases. 

It was further said that a very small portion of them were being recorded as the government did not seem to be up to the mark in term of its capacity or policy towards coronavirus. 

A few television channels quoted various government authorities saying that the ongoing partial lockdown imposed in the wake of coronavirus emergency will further be relaxed, offering certain standard operating procedures to traders and businessmen as well, shortly. 

Meanwhile the Sindh Minister for Local Government and Information, Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, visited the KMC-run Abbasi Shaheed Hospital on April 19 where he handed over personal protection equipments to the doctors, nurses and paramedics in the wake of coronavirus epidemic in the city. 

On the occasion, he said that not only the spread of the coronavirus was under control but many of its victims had also fully recovered due to the Sindh government's integrated strategy.

Chemico Bacteriological Laboratory may take another five months for completion

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The first phase of upgradation works of the Sindh government’s Chemico Bacteriological Laboratory (CBL), undertaken by the HEJ Research Institute of Chemistry, University of Karachi, may take another five months or so to complete, this emerged on April 19.

According to sources in the university, the Sindh government has released almost 60 percent of the total amount it promised in the cases of CBL and, upon completion of the first phase of the work, the government laboratory will be in a position to carry out selected forensic tests as per the international standards. 

A review meeting was held at the HEJ institute on April 18, wherein Director of International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), Prof Dr M Iqbal Choudhary, informed the participants that the provincial government had released Rs 80 million, out of the total amount Rs 135 million, to the institute for the purchase of basic equipments and hiring and training of staff for the laboratory. 

Prof Choudhary said that the tender process of instrument procurement for the first phase has concluded while the second phase of the work was specifically associated with the site preparation at CBL. “The basic upgradation work will be completed in the next four or five months,” he added. 

The KU institute and the Sindh health department had signed a MoU in December last for the much awaited upgradation of the CBL located at the Sindh Services Hospital, Karachi, which had been conducting tests and releasing forensic reports related to murders, rapes, recovery of heroin and liquor and food samples, it was further learnt.

Comedy king Umar Sharif turns 65

Pakistan News & Features Services

Pakistan’s uncrowned king of comedy, Umar Sharif, has turned 65. Having been born in Karachi on April 19, 1955, he started his career from a young age and went on to dominate the entertainment industry for decades. 

He had barely entered his teens when he debuted as an actor on stage. 

He went from strength to strength as his stage plays shattered records after records in terms of popularity. 

His blockbuster play ‘Bakra Qiston Par’ became a household name all over Pakistan and also in many other countries. 

Four editions of ‘Bakra Qiston Par’ earned him global fame and he was recognized as a comedian of the highest class. This stage play has remained extremely popular as it has travelled to every nook and corner of the world in the form of cassettes and CDs during the past quarter of a century. 

Umar Sharif has a huge fan base all over South Asia and his shows in India were wholeheartedly lauded by the Bollywood greats like Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra and Rekha when he performed their live a few times. 

A book titled ‘Humay Tumse Pyar Hai’ was authored and published by the USA-based journalist of Pakistani origin, Arif Afzal Usmani, last year in which around one hundred personalities from the various walks of life have shared their views and experiences relating to Umar Sharif. 

‘Humay Tumse Pyar Hai’ has been one of the most well read books about the Pakistani comedy king, who is credited to have brought smiles on millions of faces during an illustrious professional career spanning nearly half a century. 

The author of the book, Arif Afzal Usmani, while talking to PNFS from New Jersey, USA, on April 19, paid glowing tribute to Umar Sharif on the occasion of his 65th birthday as he has planned to bring out ‘Humay Tumse Pyar Hai’ on the demand of readers.

PCAA issue new health policy for passengers

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA), in view of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, has issued a new health policy for the passengers travelling from April 18 to 30.

The PCAA has advised for the strict implementation of all standard operating procedures (SOPs) mentioned in the health forms as all passengers travelling by air will be required to submit information about flu, cold, cough, and sore throat in their health forms. 

The form has also very clearly mentioned that the passengers would be required to enter quarantine if the relevant health officer deemed it necessary. 

It was also made mandatory for the passengers to understand that the quarantine period could be extended if advised by the doctors. The passengers will be paying for the advised food during quarantine and they were liable to penalties for providing wrong or false information. 

The government, on the other hand, was undertaking the responsibility of providing accommodation to the passengers in accordance to their preferences.

KMC hospitals willing to meet COVID-19 challenge

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Karachi Mayor, Wasim Akhtar, has once again emphasized that the various hospitals run by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) were very much capable of contributing to the governments’ ongoing fight against the coronavirus pandemic but these were failing to seize the opportunity as neither the provincial nor the federal government had devised any joint strategy for the purpose so far.

“The local government in Karachi has effective team of doctors, paramedics as well as infrastructure and 58 ventilators but all these things are not being utilized effectively by the federal and provincial governments,” he regretted. 

Having said this, during his meeting with heads and owners of private hospitals and medical superintendents of public sector hospitals on April 18, the mayor disclosed that now the KMC was approaching private sector to serve the people in the metropolitan at large. 

The mayor told the meeting that he had written several letters to federal and Sindh governments, asking them to provide assistance to the KMC for combating the coronavirus but to no avail. 

Dr Ashfaq Sohail, chairman of Private Hospitals Association of Medical and Dental, Dr Asim Hussain of Dr Ziauddin Hospital, Dr Abdul Bari of Indus Hospital, Dr Salman Fareedi of Liaquat National Hospital, Dr Farooq Mamji of Mamji Hospital, Dr Asif of Ashfaq Memorial Hospital, Dr Ali Farhan Chishti of Darul Sehat Hospital, Dr Mazhar of Patel Hospital, Metropolitan Commissioner Dr Syed Saif-ur-Rehman, Senior Director Medical Services, KMC, Dr Salma Kausar, Senior Director Coordination, KMC, Masood Alam, among others, attended the meeting, according to a KMC handout. 

The mayor observed that a large number of Karachiites visited the KMC-run hospitals, but they could not be given the due care in the context of COVID-19 in the absence of testing kits or the funds to buy the same. 

He remarked that at present 2,500 to 3,000 tests were being conducted by the Sindh government, which could be extended to 6,000 provided the healthcare units of KMC were provided with these facilities.

"We have human resources, laboratories and intensive care units and all we need is technical assistance so that the people could be served in more efficient manner," he asserted.

He further said that three designated centres were being established at Landhi Cardiac Emergency Centre, Abbasi Shaheed Hospital and Karachi Institute of Heart Disease with the assistance of private hospitals. 

“The critically ill COVID-19 patients would be looked after in ICUs of Abbasi Shaheed Hospitals,” he announced. 

On this occasion, he lamented that the situation might have been different if the provincial government devised any joint strategy involving KMC. 

According to the KMC press release, Dr Abdul Bari promised to provide testing kits as well as personal protection equipment to the KMC, while Dr Asim Hussain and Dr Salman Fareedi assured the mayor of giving technical support to KMC for its ICUs and laboratories.

Air University’s e-Olympiad from April 19

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Air University, in an effort to eradicating the confines of quarantined minds of youth, has announced to organize Pakistan's first-ever and the biggest e-Olympiad Air e-Nexus'20 from April 19 to 23. 

According to a press release issued on April 18, the Directorate of Student Affairs of Air University will be holding as many as 61 online events during the five-day event aimed at promoting e-Edutainment. 

The prominent events of the Olympiad comprise e-competitions among university students ranging from writing challenges to engineering designs, quizzes, donation drives, designing public service messages through videography, photography, animation and various other skill-based competitions. 

The Air e-Nexus'20 would also explore new horizons of opportunities under the concepts emerged from COVID-19 outbreak crisis, like work from home and remote learning through the effective use of online digital tools, including e-LMS. 

Air University has further announced to donate all proceeds from the event to the Government's COVID-19 relief fund. 

"We wish to return the spark that the youth of Pakistan think they have lost in their lives because of COVID-19. The objective of this whole extravaganza is to encourage students to promote the use of technology in education and revive the Nexus to e-Nexus, as an innovative initiative, for making some valuable contribution to the knowledge economy in digital age," an Air University official emphasized, adding that the primary motive behind transforming annual Air Nexus event to e-Nexus is promoting a digital platform to help achieve the concept of digital Pakistan. 

“Air University has and always will be leading from the front in support of new ideas and advancements in regard to such unprecedented ventures. Air e-Nexus'20 aims to prove itself one of the pivotal stepping stones through which the youth can bring a stark change in the minds and hearts of people, for the future of a dynamic and technologically advanced Pakistan,” the statement concluded.