Saturday, May 2, 2020

COVID-19 course for medical students introduced

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Aga Khan University’s Medical College has introduced a new COVID-19 course for students in all five years of its undergraduate programme in medicine and surgery (MBBS). 

The six-week course will provide students with the latest research and evidence on the structure of the disease, its development and spread, and ways to prevent and manage the coronavirus in hospital and community settings. 

“The current health crisis is unprecedented, and requires us to adapt our curriculum to provide our graduates with the necessary skill set required to deal with pandemics in general, and COVID-19 in particular,” Dr Sadaf Khan, associate dean of undergraduate education at the AKU, observed. 

She noted that the recent pandemics such as Ebola, SARS, MERS and now COVID-19 represent threats to our way of life and the long-term stability of our health systems which required universities to adopt a different approach to the study of pandemics. 

“This is a public health issue that will be of concern for an indeterminate period of time. It will impact the delivery of medical care at all levels. This module will better prepare our students for the challenges that lie ahead,” Dr Sadaf Khan added. 

The course also includes a module on the use of artificial intelligence in pandemics as a tool for surveillance, diagnosis and drug development. Penultimate and final-year students will also study diagnostic methods as well as how to create treatment plans for patients depending on the severity of the disease. 

“This course gives students the chance to understand COVID-19 from a health systems point of view. This kind of cutting-edge academic work allows our students to engage in the public health response as learners as they gear up to become tomorrow’s frontline healthcare leaders,” Dr Adil Haide, Dean, Medical College, added.

Coronavirus Update: Karachi reports all time high of 504 infections

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Karachi reported an all days’ highest 504 new COVID-19 cases, with six relevant deaths on May 1, taking the provincial tally of infected people to 6,675 across the province, according to authorities in the government. 

The latest COVID-19 data showed a 68% increase in Karachi as the cases on May 1 at 8 am, in comparison to 299 new cases confirmed in Karachi on April 30. 

However, insiders said that the spike was due to the fact that expatriates returning from Dubai, Sharjah and Colombo were tested for coronavirus recently and were included in the overall number of people tested in Karachi.

The Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in his routine video message on May 1 said that three flights carrying 483 passengers from abroad had landed at Karachi on April 28 and 29, who were tested for COVID-19 later. 

As many as 190 of these passengers, including 92 belonging to Sindh, 56 to Punjab, 24 to KPK and 18 to Balochistan, tested positive for the virus. 

Keen observers noted that confirmation of COVID-19 in 40 percent of the examined passengers calls the authorities in Pakistan to maintain strict checking of the expatriates and isolate them from the general population till the time they were not declared free of the virus. 

“I don’t know how the infected and non-infected Pakistanis were brought in same flights,” lamented a public health concerned. 

Official sources said that six more COVID-19 patients lost their lives in public and private hospitals and at home in Karachi, pushing the tally of deceased patients to 118 for the province. 

About Karachi, it was learnt that its South district housed 1,301 COVID positive patients, followed by East (1,059 positive cases), Central (815), West (549), Malir (472) and Korangi (460). 

Majority of over 5,250 positive cases are receiving treatments isolated at home, while a good number of them are also admitted to the hospitals, including the Aga Khan University Hospital (55), Peoples Medical College Hopsital, Nawabshah (52), Gadap Hospital (48), PNS Shifa (36), DUHS Ojha Hospital (35), Civil Hospital Karachi (34), Isra Hospital, Hyderabad (34), Bibi Asefa Dental College (36), Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (31), Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (21), Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences Hospital (21), Indus Hospital, Korangi (21) and others, according to official sources. 

Apart from Karachi, 20 other districts of Sindh also reported new infections on May 1 morning – Hyderabad (19), Jamshoro (1), Badin (1), Shaheed Benazirabad (3), Naushehro Feroz (1), Sujawal (1), Thatta (1), Sanghar (4), Tando Mohammad Khan (5), Ghotki (17), Sukkur (6), Khairpur (2), Larkana (23), Dadu (1), Kambar Shahdadkot (1), Kashmore (3), Mirpurkhas (2), Tharparkar (1), Shikarpur (15) and Jacobabad (11). 

In all 3,384 people were tested for the virus, out of which 622 were found infected. The overall COVID-19 infection rate came as 11.55% across the province on May 1.

Sindh minister declares labourer as nation’s pride

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Sindh Minister for Information and Local Government, Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, has declared the labourer as mark of proud for the whole nation.

In a statement released on International Labour Day, he recognized the role of labour community in country’s progress and development, considering it indispensable. 

“The country’s economic and financial growth is directly linked with the satisfaction of daily wagers and the labour class. The society cannot be called sophisticated without giving the complete rights of the hard workers,” the Minister remarked, adding that the whole nation was proud of hard working people. 

“Our Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) has taught us to give respect and complete pay to the labour before his sweat gets dry. We have a clear guideline through which we can achieve the higher benefits,” he said while emphasizing about the importance of the labour in Islam.

Nasir Hussain Shah stated that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) believed in giving the complete rights to the labourer. “Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was the first leader who raised the voice for labour class. The PPP’s manifesto clearly defines the mission to struggle for the rights of labouer and daily wagers,” he said.

China donates Ramadan gift package

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

To mark the holy month of Ramadan, the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Yao Jing, donated a Ramadan gift package to the Minister of State for Frontier Region, Shaharyar Khan Afridi, in Islamabad.

“Pakistan and China are good neighbours and good brothers. The traditional friendship between the two countries has passed the test of time and has been highly cherished by all walks of life in Palestine,” Pakistan’s federal minister stated on the occasion, according to the details shared by the Chinese Embassy. 

“Pakistan sincerely congratulates China on its major victory in the fight against the new coronary pneumonia epidemic in the short span of time and appreciates China's active participation in international anti-epidemic cooperation,” Shaharyar Afridi complimented. 

“The epidemic situation is spreading rapidly in Pakistan and we thank the Chinese government and people for providing a large amount of anti-epidemic materials and sending medical expert teams to Pakistan. This once again reflects the sincere friendship between Pakistan and China for breathing and destiny,” he added.

“The epidemic is a common challenge for the international community, and it has made life difficult for 2.8 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Pakistan is hosting refugees from Afghanistan for more than 40 years. Due to limited resources, it urgently needs the help of the international community,” the Minister said. 

“Thank you to the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan for donating the much-needed living materials to the refugees in at the beginning of Ramadan, helping the Pakistani government to ease the pressure, and also reflecting the Chinese government and people’s responsible attitude and humanitarian sentiment for actively participating in the solution of the refugee problem,” he acknowledged. 

Ambassador Yao said that Pakistan and Afghanistan were both Chinese neighbours and China highly appreciated Pakistan’s constructive role in the peace reconciliation process and peaceful reconstruction in Afghanistan and appreciates Pakistan ’s hosting of millions of refugees and its tremendous contribution to the international humanitarian cause.

“In recent years, under the guidance of the three-party foreign minister dialogue mechanism the three countries have carried out friendly cooperation in areas such as building people's livelihood facilities, disaster relief, and sports and cultural exchanges,” he said. 

“The new coronary pneumonia epidemic is a common challenge between China, Pakistan and the international community. China has provided assistance to Pakistan and Afghanistan through bilateral channels to fight the epidemic. We believe that the Pakistani and Albanian governments and people will eventually overcome the epidemic,” the Ambassador hoped 

“The epidemic affects the livelihoods of refugees in Afghanistan. China hopes that these food supplies will ease the hardship of some refugee groups during Ramadan. China is willing to jointly promote the trilateral cooperation between China, Pakistan and Afghanistan,” he concluded.

Of doctors being saluted by cops!

Pakistan News & Features Services

The doctors in Pakistan, having generally complained of being treated harshly by police when coming face to face during demonstrations, protests or strikes, have experienced a pleasant change of attitude on part of the law enforcers when working as the frontline fighters during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

The policemen as well as the paramilitary rangers have lately been found saluting the doctors on the roads of Karachi, Islamabad and other cities, reflecting positive vibes and boosting the morale of those directly fighting the deadly virus. They have been showing massive respect for healthcare workers, hailing them as the first line of defence against COVID-19. 

Similar change of attitude of cops has also been witnessed in many other countries where the doctors have been stopped on the roads, not for the verification of their documents but for saluted and recognized. Such gestures of showing their respect to medics, have meant a lot to doctors and other healthcare workers around the world.

An expatriate lady doctor, working in Dubai, recently described it an unforgettable experience when police stopped her car and gave a salute instead of checking her documents during curfew hours. 

Dr Ayesha Sultana was reported to be returning home on April 28 when stopped by Dubai Police near the Al Mulla Plaza on the Dubai-Sharjah highway. She was driving home to Sharjah after finishing her shift at the Al Ahli Screening centre in Dubai. 

"I did panic a bit and I was focused on getting my work permit and other documents to prove I am a doctor. But to my surprise, the policemen refused to check my documents and instead gave me a salute and said I can go. This is the best reward you can get as a doctor,” the doctor was quoted as saying.

Bollywood’s chocolate hero Rishi Kapoor to be missed

Pakistan News & Features Services

Rishi Kapoor, who remained the heartthrob of millions for decades, went down fighting as he too lost the battle against cancer in a Mumbai hospital on April 30. He was 67.

For the second day running, the entertainment industry was robbed of a legend. Irrfan Khan, the star of Hollywood and Bollywood, had passed away at the age of 53 in the same city due to cancer. 

Rishi was a part of the great Kapoor dynasty which ruled the Bollywood for decades, starting with Prithviraj Kapoor, Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor yesteryears to Kareena Kapoor, Karishma Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor of today. 

The Kapoor family had their origins in city of Peshawar in Pakistan where Rishi’s grandfather Prithviraj Kapoor and his father Raj Kapoor were born. 

The family migrated to India after the partition in 1947. Rishi had visited his anecstors’ residential building, called Kapoor Haveli, in Peshawar in 1990. 

Being the youngest son of the great Raj Kapoor, Rishi had made his debut in movies as a child artist but he rose to prominence with the blockbuster Bobby, in which he played his first-ever lead story, at the age of 20. 

He continued charming and mesmerizing the audience with his soft mannerism and unmatched elegance to emerge as the real chocolate hero of Bollywood during the times when the baton of superstar changed hands from Rajesh Khanna to Amitabh Bachchan. 

Rishi excelled in playing role of the romantic lead in dozens of films for over two decades after which he succeeded in making a successful transition to character roles. 

He was diagnosed with leukemia in 2018 and returned to India last September after a year-long course of treatment in New York. Upon his return, he was hospitalized a few times but recovered. He, however, lost the battle when taken to hospital on the morning of April 29 after he had complained of breathing difficulties.

Irrfan Khan, star of Hollywood, Bollywood leaves a legacy

Pakistan News & Features Services

Irrfan Khan, the star of Hollywood and Bollywood, passed away in a Mumbai hospital on April 29 and he was buried hours after he had lost the battle with a colon infection. He was 53.

According to reports, he had been rushed to hospital for treatment on April 28 and placed in intensive care. He didn’t last long as his fight with cancer, which commenced in 2018, ended fatally. 

The incredibly gifted Irrfan, hailed as a man of few words but an actor of silent expressions with his deep eyes, would long be remembered for his memorable movies and the roles he played in them. He has left behind a legacy of his own. 

Irrfan Khan was acclaimed as one of Indian cinema's finest actors and among its most successful exports to Hollywood. 

By his own admission in some interviews there were times when thought his acting career would be over with the TV soaps he had worked in at the beginning. 

He had a modest entry in Bollywood but he went from strength to strength, capitalizing on the opportunities coming his way. 

Besides succeeding in Bollywood he dashed to Hollywood and proved a success story there too. He was one of the most popular actors, having enjoyed massive following all over the world.

Pakistan’s professor elected as fellow of Royal Society

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta of the Aga Khan University (AKU), has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society, the United Kingdom’s leading scientific body, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to global child health over three decades.

Professor Bhutta is globally recognized for his research breadth and productivity. 

Widely published, he is the highest-ranking public health researcher in the Muslim world and was recently ranked by Stanford University among the top 0.01 per cent of the most highly cited scientists globally. 

He’s quick to emphasize that these contributions were the result of collaboration and teamwork with faculty and researchers in Pakistan, Canada, and across the world. 

He has been a faculty member at AKU since 1986 and his scientific research has focussed on raising living standards in some of the world’s most vulnerable populations including women, newborns and children in low-income countries, marginalized rural areas and conflict-affected settings. 

From the outset, he has set his research priorities around pressing national and global issues, particularly amongst underserved populations and in understudied areas of need, initially on childhood diarrhea and malnutrition, and global newborn care.

Ehsas Kafaalat beneficiaries clash with police

By Masood Sattar Khan 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

A clash between police and Ehsas Kafaalat beneficiaries reportedly took place in Kadhan centre near Badin, resulting injuries to dozens of police personnel and beneficiaries. 

The angered and frustrated beneficiaries allegedly pelted stones while police had ruthlessly baton charged to disperse the crowd. 

The action created uneasy situation and tension in the city. It was also reported that the beneficiaries had allegedly broken main entrance gate of the centre. Police has arrested more than 10 beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, in line with the lockdown directives, the traders were forced to close down their business and the appeals to let them carry out some business activity were turned down. 

The national lockdown, which has been extended from April 30 to May 9, has severely hit small traders and daily wagers who have been denied the opportunity of conducting business during the holy month of Ramazan.