Thursday, May 7, 2020

Sindh government’s damage control dose

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Following criticism over the tragic death of a corona positive radiologist onboard an ambulance, the Sindh government has finally moved to a damage control on May 6.

The Sindh Health department placed the services of a junior doctor posted at the Civil Hospital Karachi in the wake of a report furnished by its emergently ordered fact finding committee regarding death of a corona positive patient, Dr Furqan ul Haq, a resident of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Karachi. 

The committee, headed by Fayaz Hussain Abbasi, a special secretary at the health department, recommended initiation of disciplinary actions against a medical officer, saying that the doctor should have admitted Dr Furqan, a critically ill patient, even though he wanted to go somewhere else since there were nine vacant ICU beds in CHK.

“It was a misjudgment on his part and an act of omission rather than deliberate; despite all that, a patient lost his life.” 

In the findings section of the report, the committee reported that the emergency staff of CHK had referred the patient (Dr Furqan) to COVID-19 control room where the medical officer on duty, a grade-17 doctor) saw the patient. 

“Instead of admitting him, he advised him to contact the concerned doctor (an officer at another hospital) who had arranged a bed for him.” 

The death of the radiologist, Dr Furqan-ul-Haq, a retired officer of the Karachi Institute of Heart Diseases (KIHD), was highlighted by social media as well as television channels, claiming that he, onboard the ambulance, tried at a couple of hospitals for an intensive care intervention but failed. 

Earlier, the provincial government’s spokesperson had regretted the death of Dr Furqan at a press conference. Praising the efforts of his government related to coronavirus, he shared that the government has decided to purchase 250 disposable ventilators. 

On May 6, the Sindh health department also issued an advisory saying: Every COVID-19 positive case shall be at his or her liberty to be isolated either at home or isolation centre; None shall be forcefully shifted to isolation centre, if proper space is available in his/her residence and the patient or the family members agree to his/her home isolation. 

It was further said in the advisory that the COVID-19 patient was bound to strictly observe the SOPs narrated or explained by the healthcare providers for home isolation. “In case of any violation that exposes community to the infection then the patient shall be shifted to isolation centre.”

Coronavirus Update: No respite in Karachi

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Karachi witnessed no respite from coronavirus even after lockdown and strict restrictions as the health authorities confirmed 339 new infections and six deaths among the virus patients, including a young woman on May 6, taking the city’s COVID-19 infected people to 6,535. 

Karachi has reported 336 new cases every day on average during a period of April 30 to May 6, against the provincial daily average of 421 cases during the same period. 

The surge in new cases has created a fresh wave of panic among the citizens as they feel that government was failing to contain the disease in the megapolis while the number of relevant deaths involving young males and females was also on the rise. 

The government was urged to ensure improved care delivery to the patients, particularly those who are infected and keeping themselves in home-isolation. 

A medical practitioner said that efforts should be made to improve the overall patient recovery rate and come up with a strategy to overcome the patients receiving treatment at homes as they are sure to multiply the infection.

Prof Dr Shahana Urooj Kazmi, a senior microbiologist, observed that keeping the infected patients and treating them at home has reduced the huge load on inadequately equipped, untrained medical professionals who never had a chance to deal with such patients, but it’s not advisable any more. 

“The current style of confining COVID-19 positive cases at homes along with their family members is not advisable considering the nature of transmission and survival of the virus on surfaces, in the aerosols produced by talking, sneezing, coughing by the patients. It will be a great source of infection for the family as well as the neighboring community,” she elaborated. 

The professor further said that the home based coronavirus patients stay with a family 0f 5-10 people, in some cases older people over 60 years. 

“Think about katchi badis and hutments,” she added questioning that, having just 2-3 rooms in the homes, how could they be expected to contain the virus. 

She recommended immediate transfer of the patients from home to isolation wards with negative pressure in a hospital which has capacity to handle and treat such patients. All contacts of the patients should be tested for infection. 

An official report, updated on May 6, said that about 5,150 infected people were in home isolation, while around 750 were in the official isolation centres and about 600 were admitted at 31 corona designated health facilities across the province. 

The health department summary, released to media on May 6, stated that a total 1,731 coronavirus patients, including 730 at Karachi, have recovered from the disease. 

It further said that a total nine more COVID-19 patients lost their lives in four districts of Sindh, pushing the provincial tally of the disease deaths to 157. 

Though it refrained from details of hospitals where the deceased persons were receiving treatment the summary said that six persons, including two females, of ages ranging from 18 to 81 died at Karachi, while a 35-year-old man died at Shikarpur, one man of 42 years at Sanghar and another 65-year-old man lost his life in Badin. 

The number of COVID-19 cases rose to 8,640 for the province as 451 new infections were recorded during the 24 hours ending at 8 am on May 6. Karachi division reported 339 new cases, followed by Shikarpur (24), Sukkur (19), Shaheed Benazirabad (15), Ghotki (9), Larkana (6), Hyderabad (5) Sujawal (4) while Badin, Dadu, Mirpurkhas reported one case each. 

The overall number of samples tested rose to 72,544 samples as 3,671 more samples were tested for coronavirus on May 6. The overall COVID infection rate came as 11.91%.

China launches large carrier rocket

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

China's latest large carrier rocket made its first successful flight on May 5, regarded as a significant step in the country’s plan to build a space station, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.

The Long March-5B rocket was reported to have blasted off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in South China's Hainan province, sending an unmanned prototype spacecraft and a cargo return capsule successfully into orbit. 

The new rocket model, measured around 53.7 meters in length and weighed around 849 tonnes at takeoff, has been described as a variant of the Long March-5, possessing the capacity to carry larger payloads of upto 22 tonnes into low-Earth orbit. 

The Long March-5B is equipped with guidance, navigation and control technology that mean its trajectory can be adjusted continuously. 

China, having launched its first manned space flight in 2003, has scheduled to send Long March-5 for first Mars probe and the Chang'e-5 lunar probe to collect moon samples and return to Earth later this year.

Video of Karachi rickshaw driver unable to pay rent goes viral

Pakistan News & Features Services

The video of a Karachi rickshaw driver, unable to pay rent and facing harsh consequences, has gone viral, highlighting the questionable government policies regarding the persistent lockdown aimed at containing coronavirus (COVID-19).

The sight of the rickshaw driver, sitting in a dark room, next to an empty stove at his residence in the area of Manzoor Colony, staring hopelessly at the ground with his five children and wife after his landlord had cut electricity and gas due to non-payment of monthly rental, moved a lot of viewers globally, some of them also breaking into tears. 

Although rickshaws were allowed to be running on the roads during daytime, the number of passengers had gone down as a result of the extended lockdown in Karachi, having made life particularly miserable for the daily wage workers like rickshaw drivers. 

Many rickshaw and cab drivers, besides other daily wagers, have had to endure similar problems and anxieties as they not only have defaulted on rentals during the past couple of months but also struggled to feed their families because of the lack of work in market. 

While the government has announced some relief packages and some welfare organizations have also joined in helping out the community but their efforts appeared far too little in the context of the crisis and they need to expedite their actions to reach out the masses for solving their problems.

UAE food supply unlikely to be impacted

Pakistan News & Features Services

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Armed Forces has declared that food security remained UAE’s top priority and, despite challenges, its food supply chain will never be impacted.

“No doubt, there is some shortage, but what a great job to feed 10 million people and, moreover, extend a helping hand to 10 more countries, hit by the crisis,” Sheikh Mohammed was quoted as saying on May 6. 

He thanked the UAE Food Security Council as well as the ministries of Economy, Climate Change and Environment, Education, Health and Prevention, and Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, for having worked together as teamwork during these tough times. 

“You did it the right way to sustainably maintain the UAE’s food security. The least we can say is thank you,” Sheikh Mohammed acknowledged.

 Earlier, the minister in charge of food security allayed panic by reassuring that the UAE had enough supplies of food and medicine to address the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I know many of you are worried. I want to reassure you that we are doing our best to ensure that everyone has enough food in the UAE,” Mariam Bint Mohammad Saeed Hareb Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Food Security, told the majlis of Sheikh Mohammed in the lecture broadcast live on Al Emarat TV Channel and posted on Youtube.

Bahrain eases coronavirus restrictions

Pakistan News & Features Services

Bahrain, following the recent practice in other Gulf countries, has also eased restrictions, allowing shops and industrial enterprises to open from May 7 while restaurants will stay closed to in-house diners.

Unlike other states in the Gulf, Bahrain had not imposed curfew since March but it had decided to close down non-essential shops and businesses besides barring the entry of foreign visitors to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Health Ministry officials, during a media briefing on May 6, declared that the employees and customers must wear face masks and practice physical distancing as restrictions were being relaxed. Cinemas, sports facilities and salons remain, however, will continue to remain closed. 

Bahrain has reported 3,720 infections with eight deaths from the COVID-19 respiratory disease while the total count in the six Gulf Arab states exceeded 78,014 with 430 deaths. 

Quite a few Gulf countries had eased curfews and other social and business restrictions with the start of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan about a couple of weeks ago.

Nisar Memon highlights Shanghai, SCO

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

“It is understandable to keep social distances amongst the people to fight COVID-19 but not amongst the countries vowed to cooperate against terrorism, separatism and extremism, the three evil forces. These are the objectives pursued by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) or Shanghai Pact; a Eurasian intergovernmental organization for political, economic, and security cooperation.”

This was observed by Senator Nisar Memon, a former federal minister, in his latest newspaper article. 

‘The SCO was founded in Shanghai on June 15, 2001 by six countries. Shanghai symbolizes the political power with its history dating back to 1291, an economic showcase with gross domestic product in 2019 amounted to approximately 3.82 trillion Yuan (about US$ 541billion), is China’s biggest and richest city, and a naval base and shipbuilding industry where Pakistan’s F-22P Frigate was built Shanghai is the city which rivals New York or Paris in terms of modernity and boasts a blended culture of the East and the West and has come to be known as Oriental Paris,” he wrote. 

“The SCO countries like other countries of the world are confronted with terrorism of tiny virus COVID-19 since the dawn of this decade. Each of the eight SCO member country; the People’s Republic of China, The Republic of India, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan; has suffered pandemic in varying degree,” the former federal minister observed. 

“The People’s Republic of China successfully came out of it and is on its feet reaching out to all continents to help victims of COVID-19. In February 2020, the SCO rightly issued a statement supporting China’s efforts against the novel coronavirus outbreak,” he complimented. 

“There must be some inherent immunity and strengths in our people. Besides this pandemic, the region awaits peace and progress for its 3.2 billion inhabitants compared to the rest of the world population of 4.6 billion,” he added.

“Pakistan experienced, within SCO, terrorism of worst kind with terrorist attacks on headquarters of its Navy, Air Force, and Army headquarters; on its cities killing civilians; but the worst was brutal attack on its innocent children in a Peshawar Public School. With political and security determination and coordinated actions, Pakistan has controlled terrorism but not completely as yet,” Senator Nisar Memon noted.

“Pakistan has overpowered extremism like one witnessed when the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad were paralyzed by brute force at Faizabad, and Lal Masjid was turned into fortress with heavily armed extremists to fight the state. The need for institutional support from the SCO countries will bring fruits envisaged by pioneers of the alliance,” he opined.