Sunday, May 10, 2020

Coronavirus Update: Infections skyrocket in Sindh

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Sindh, unable to see its COVID-19 curve flattened, got a big jolt again on May 9 when the authorities confirmed detection of 1,080 new infections, an all days’ highest figure in all the provinces and territories of the country. Earlier, Punjab had reported the all days’ maximum 956 new cases on May 7. 

Notably, Sindh reported its COVID-19 fatalities as four during the last 24 hours in contrast to the figures of last week, till April 9, when on average, at least eight people lost their lives every day across the province.

In a video message, the Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, informed that in all 5,498 tests were conducted in the province during the last 24 hours ending at 8 am on May 9, out of which 1,080 were found positive for coronavirus, including a bulk new infections reported among the residents of Pir Jo Goth, a rural city in Khairpur district.

Terming the development a dreadful eruption of the virus, the Chief Minister disclosed that 246 new cases were found in a day in Pir Jo Goth. 

“Earlier on May 4, total number of 10 people were diagnosed as coronavirus positive after 35 people were tested while another 14 cases had popped up on May 6 when 97 other villagers were tested,” he added and expressed the suspicion that this local spread took in the area after death of a woman having the history of traveling to Hyderabad, who died before any testing for coronavirus. 

“At Karachi we have conducted some tests among people including the shopkeepers and vendors, at various shops and found some COVID positive cases.” he continued, describing it as a dangerous sign and demanded of the people to shun the lax attitude and not to go outdoors unnecessarily. 

He said that 101 of the patients (17.2%) were in critical condition, including 23 those who were on ventilators. 

In the meantime, according to the Sindh health department daily coronavirus summary, three patients, aged 27 to 70 years, including a woman died at Karachi, while a 45-year-old man died at Hyderabad. 

An official source said that three of the patients died at hospitals, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Indus Hospital and Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences, while another one expired in the home isolation. 

The daily summary revealed that a maximum 691 new cases were detected in in Karachi, while another 266 in Khairpur, Sukkur (34), Ghotki (17), Larkana (17), Kashmore (8), Shaheed Benazirabad (7), Matiari (5), Mirpurkhas (4), Jamshoro (3) and Tando AllahYar (2). Thatta, Sanghar, Shikarpur and Jacobabad reported one case each. 

As many as 5,489 tests were conducted, pushing the total number of tests to 10,771 across the province. Another 80 patients recovered from illness, taking the total of the cured patients to 2,020.

People warned to be careful, vigilant during lockdown relaxation

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Apparently unnerved by the federal government’s decision of easing out the coronavirus-related restrictions further across the country, the health policy executors in the Sindh government and the community of doctors working in the public and private sectors observed in Karachi on May 9 that only the citizens can now stop the epidemic from taking a turn for further human adversities in the country.

Originating from China’s Wuhan city the COVID-19 outbreak in the country has killed 636 men, women and children, including 180 in Sindh, and made 28,736 fall ill since February 26, in addition to jeopardizing lives of millions of common men, businesses and industries, education at all levels and other social and economic activities across the country. 

In a video statement, the Sindh health minister, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, said that following the COVID-19 emergency, hospitals were running out of beds and ventilators. 

She candidly admitted that number of COVID-19 patients requiring the ventilator intervention was on increase at hospitals. “The number of patients is growing every 30 minutes in hospitals.” 

Talking about  the available intensive care and high dependency units at various government hospitals of Karachi, she however apprehended that since the lockdown measures were being relaxed the number of coronavirus patients could increase steeply, if people did not exercise precautions. 

She urged citizens to behave responsibly against COVID-19 and demonstrate utmost cares, particularly while meeting their elders, who are more vulnerable to the virus diseases in question.

At the same time, she mentioned that the government will make two blocks of 200 beds within its non-functional health project near the old NIPA round about by the end of May. 

At an emergent convened press conference at the PMA House, the leaders from doctors community, including some diseases specialists, said that now government had shifted all responsibilities on citizens, rather than revising its healthcare delivery policy and structures in the context of coronavirus epidemic. 

“In the given situation government’s decision to relax the lockdown is bound to add to the number of COVID-19 patients in the country. Now it is the responsibility of the governments to ensure implementation of standard operating procedures.” 

Those who spoke at the press conference included PMA’s central secretary, Dr S M Qaiser Sajjad, Dr Ikram Ahmed Tunio and Dr Sharif Hashmani of PMA, Dr Sohail Akhtar and Dr Azeemuddin of Pakistan Islamic Medical Association and other office bearers of the doctors’ bodies. 

“We need to be extremely careful and vigilant. We must prepare ourselves for the worst situation to come,” Dr Qaiser Sajjad warned.

He said that the federal government has in principle decided to ease out the corona related lockdown from May 9 in the country, on the other hand it is a known fact that the medical facilities and capabilities of the government are very limited. 

“In case of increase in number of corona patients, the system will not able to take care to all patients. As at the moment there are only 63 corona dedicated beds available in five public sector hospitals in Karachi only, while the situation in other big cities is also not much different or it can even be worst.” 

The leaders of physicians expressed the fear that after the gradual relaxation in lockdown all over the country, keeping in view the literary rate and level of awareness of our people, undisciplined attitude and obstinate behavior, the floodgate of COVID-19 patients will open in the society. 

However, they advised people to take this ailment just like any other diseases, and not take it as a taboo or social stigma. “We also advise the government to listen the voice of the WHO, which time and again calling for the lockdown as an only effective preventive measure against the virus.” 

Suggesting the government for giving a plan to tackle up the expected surge of patients, they called for establishing a central dashboard or a central helpline from the governments in all major cities to guide patients where to contact if they are sick. 

“Only announcing the names of the designated hospitals does not help as it leads to frustration in finding a place by the sick. This helpline should be available to ambulance services so that the ambulance driver should know where to drop the patient.”

Dreamworld tributes COVID-19 frontline warriors

Pakistan News & Features Services

Dreamworld Resort, Hotel & Golf Course, as a part of its corporate social responsibility initiative, has announced rewards for doctors and paramedics, having put their lives on the line which performing duties during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Don't they face the threat of getting infected? Who is their sacrifice for? They are serving us. They are sacrificing themselves for our better being so Insha Allah Dreamworld will become their voice and let people know the issues medics are facing,” the Dreamworld management declared while making the announcement on their portal. 

“Do you know any medic fighting on the frontline? Recommend a medic for free guest membership of Dreamworld Resort. Fill the form and submit. In case of more recommendations than the number of memberships, will be allotted by balloting or a panel of judges, whichever seems better,” they added while launching their Love for the Medics campaign. 

Besides recognition and reward, Dreamworld’s endeavor is also aimed at creating awareness among the masses regarding the critical role being played by the doctors and paramedical staff during the ongoing crisis. 

“Do you know that how doctors personal life has been affected by this pandemic? Doctors are facing problems when they return home, they cannot meet their parents nor mother can put hand on their head, nor their children can run towards them for a hug, these are the problems which common people don’t know about,” the Dreamworld campaign highlighted.

Chinese military medical expert shares knowledge, expertise

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Anti-epidemic Medical Experts Group of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) held a video conference at Chinese Embassy in Islamabad to share the details of the prevention and control of new coronary pneumonia to Chinese personnel and institutions in Pakistan.

Around 100 persons including overseas Chinese in Pakistan, Chinese companies, representatives of overseas students and Chinese media in Pakistan participated, according to the information made available by the Chinese embassy. 

Military officer, Chen Wenrong, presided over the video conference which was also attended by Counsellors Pang Chunxue, Wang Zhihua and Zhang Qing. 

The representative of the Chinese military, Chen Wenrong, welcomed the arrival of the medical expert team in Pakistan. Chen said that, under the strong leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, the domestic fight against the epidemic has achieved staged a big victory. 

“The spread of the local epidemic has been basically blocked and the situation of epidemic prevention and control continues to improve. All localities coordinated efforts to promote epidemic prevention, economic and social development, helped in carrying out orderly resumption of production activities,” it was shared.

“At present, Pakistan's new crown epidemic is in a stage of rapid spread, and the pressure of Pakistan's prevention and control continues to rise. The Party Central Committee, the State Council, and the Central Military Commission attach great importance to the health and safety of Chinese personnel in Pakistan and promptly sent a team of medical experts to care and help them,” it was recalled.

“The Chinese personnel in Pakistan should pay greater importance to epidemic prevention and control work, carefully listen to the guidance and recommendations of the expert group, and make overall plans for epidemic prevention and control and work learning.” 

“While doing a good job of self-protection, that will provide Pakistan with the support it can, and carry forward the traditional friendly spirit of China and Pakistan friendship aimed at to help each other to overcome difficulties.” 

The head of the medical expert group, Zhou Feihu, introduced the prevention and control knowledge of the new coronary pneumonia to the participants in detail, reminded everyone to do self-protection, less gathering, more ventilation, wearing masks, washing hands frequently, disinfecting frequently, encouraging everyone to eat a reasonable diet, carry out routine physical exercise, maintain social distance and strengthen self-protection. 

The expert group also gave professional answers to the issues of personal protection and corporate prevention and control management of people in Pakistan. 

As the video conference lasted for more than a couple of hours, the expert group actively interacted with the participants and achieved good results.

China to help Pakistan strengthen drug control capacity building

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

China has reiterated its resolve to ensure continued help to Pakistan for strengthening drug control capacity building, improving people's livelihood, continuously deepening communication and cooperation between for drug control laws its enforcement and other fields by jointly fighting drug crimes, effectively safeguarding common interests and regional security and stability.

The assurances were given by the Chinese Ambassador, Yao Jing, during his meeting with Federal Minister for Narcotics Control, Muhammad Azam Khan Swati, according to the information made available by the Chinese embassy in Islamabad. The Police Counselor, Peng Yunfei, was also present at the meeting. 

The Minister pointed out that drugs trafficking was the common challenge being faced by all countries in the region. Pakistan and China, he stressed, will further strengthen cooperation in the fight against drug crimes. 

He expressed gratitude to the Chinese government and people for providing comprehensive assistance and support to Pakistan while fighting the new corona epidemic (COVID-19). 

In the course of responding to the epidemic situation, the Minister appreciated that the Chinese government and their support extended in terms of materials human resource. 

“The Chinese medical experts have been coming here regularly for sharing their experiences in anti-epidemic disease to Pakistani side and their knowledge has been found incredible,” the Minister lauded. 

He sounded positive about the timely completion of the various projects being done under the auspices of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the torch bearer of ambitious ‘Belt and Road’ initiative from the Chinese President, Xi Jinping. 

Ambassador Yao congratulated Minister Azam Swati on his new role and thanked him for his positive evaluation, saying that the new coronary pneumonia epidemic was still raging in many parts of the world. 

“Unity and cooperation is the most powerful weapon to overcome the epidemic,” the Ambassador reckoned.

NGO arranges for COVID-19 protective gears

Pakistan News & Features Services

As a part of their ‘Safety from COVID-19 on self-help basis’ project, the Serving Hands Organization distributed equipment among doctors, nurses and paramedical staff in the emergencies of the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital and the Karachi Institute of Heart Diseases (KIHD), both government-run facilities, on May 8. 

According to the details shared by the organizers, it was the seventh such camp to be held recently in which the safety equipment for medical practitioners was provided free of cost. The precautionary kits included face masks, gloves and sanitizers. 

Paying tribute to the medical and nursing staff for their sacrifices and fortitude, the top officials of the Service Hands Organization hailed them as the frontline soldiers in the war against COVID-19 and pledged to continue playing their role in contributing their bit for serving the humanity.

COVID-19 testing facility functional at Larkana

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Sindh health department got its third COVID-19 testing facility functional in the interior of Sindh, at the Civil Hospital, Larkana on May 8. 

A communication of the department said that a bio-safety (level-3) laboratory has been prepared for the purpose where, initially, up to 200 tests will be conducted for coronavirus confirmation on a daily basis. 

The capacity of the lab will increase to 350 tests after a week or so. Earlier, the health department was running one testing laboratory each at the Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences Hospital, Hyderabad, and the Gambat Institute of Medical Science (GIMS), Sukkur, which had a total capacity of conducting 800 COVID tests daily, in addition to 15 such facilities or laboratories at Karachi, with a total capacity of 5,000 tests daily.

The new Larkana lab will start giving test results from May 9, said an official source, adding that a need for establishing the testing facility was being felt for long, particularly in the wake of increasing number of COVID-19 patients in Larkana and its neighbouring districts. 

The number of COVID-19 positive cases has almost doubled (256) in a week time, with two deaths. Prior to the third CVID laboratory, it was learnt, sample of the suspected people were being sent to GIMS or labs in Karachi. The government is making efforts to get another testing facility at Shaheed Benazirabad soon. 

A keen observer said that government should establish such testing centres in every district of Sindh on an emergent basis. 

He opined that coronavirus cases were much more than the reported number, but not being reported as districts were short of logistics like testing kits, protective gear and trained human resource, while tests were being conducted in the highly suspected cases or those coming from international borders.

In the meantime, the COVID-19 testing summary, updated on May 7, revealed that Sindh presented 12% of the total positive testings across the country, with an average 3,213 tests per day. 

According to the summary, Sindh was conducting 1,515 tests per million, against the country's 1,148 tests per million.