Thursday, May 14, 2020

Coronavirus Update: Karachi death count shoots to 16, with 625 new cases

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Amidst concerns over the relaxed COVID-19 related restrictions, health authorities confirmed surge in Karachi daily death toll from coronavirus, with 16 people losing their lives in 24-hours duration, on May 13, pushing the total fatalities to 234 in the province. 

According to official data, Sindh reported no COVID-19 deaths from other districts which have cumulatively presented 29 deaths so far. Karachi, which reported its first coronavirus death on March 20, has witnessed considerable increase in coronavirus mortalities in recent weeks. 

Last week (May 7-13), there were 66 deaths at an average of just over nine deaths per day in the megapolis, which has reported over 10,000 COVID-19 positive cases so far. 

The Sindh health department’s daily summary updated at 8 am on May 13 revealed that the deceased patients included three women, aged from 30 to 81 years, and 13 men, aged from 42 to 85 years. However, the report was silent on the medical history of the unfortunate patients. 

There were 195 coronavirus patients in critical conditions and 27 on ventilators at various hospitals in Sindh, as per an international health body report. 

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, in a statement on May said that 22.5% of the patients dying of COVID-19 were over 81 years, while another 11.5% of the deceased were in the age brackets of 71-80, 8.5% aged from 61 to 70 years, 4.6% from 51 to 60 years. 

About 76% of the people dying of Covid-19 were male, while 24% were females across the province, he added. 

As per the health department data, Karachi reported 625 new infections in 24 hours, followed by Larkana (24), Hyderabad (22), Ghotki (14), Sukkur (10), Kashmore (8), Shikarpur (7), Shaheed Benazirabad (5), Sujawal (4), Tando Mohammad Khan (4) Naushehro Feroze (2), and Jacobabad (2), while Jamshoro, Thatta, Khairpur, Kambar Shadadkot districts reported one case each. 

As many as 4,226 samples were tested in last 24 hours, 731 (over 17%) of which were found infected with COVID-19, taking the total tested samples to 103,343 in the province.

Doctors fear rise in COVID-19 cases due to relaxed lockdown

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

A delegation of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), in its meeting with the Sindh Health Minister, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, on May 13, expressed concerns over the prevailing situation after relaxation in lockdown.

“There are crowds of people everywhere including markets throughout the country,” the delegation observed and warned the health minister that the PMA feared the number of new cases to surge in the coming weeks. 

The PMA delegation included Dr S M Qaiser Sajjad, Dr Qazi Muhammad Wasiq and Dr Abdul Ghafoor Shoro, who also discussed at large the issues of doctors, nurses and paramedics working in the Sindh. 

According to the PMA press release, the provincial health minister assured the doctor community leaders that risk allowance will be given to the health workers engaged in the care of the coronavirus patients. 

The minster agreed to the suggestions of doctors for improving the capacity building measures at the public sector hospitals. She was also urged to ensure increase in the number of beds in the hospitals and the number of corona designated hospitals and testing capacity. 

Dr Azra Pechuho announced that doctors and the paramedics suffering from COVID-19 will be admitted at private designated hospital, when no ICU beds and ventilator as available at the public sector hospitals, at the expense of government.

COVID-19 vaccine to rely on human trails

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The researchers in dozen of labs around the world have been working on the development of a vaccine for COVID-19. They will have to rely on volunteers to participate in trials at multiple points during the process of vaccine development.

Kris Armradit, the daughter of one of (China Global Television Network) CGTN's producers, has participated in three clinical trials run by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), one for an HIV monoclonal antibody treatment and two for a malaria vaccine. 

As is common in the US, she was reportedly paid for participating, about 5,000 dollars over four months for one of the malaria studies where she contracted the disease. 

"You get bitten by mosquitoes and you get infected with malaria and then you stay in the hospital to see if you get malaria then to cure you afterwards,” Armradit was quoted as saying. 

“I spent most of a week in a hospital with fever and chills. It's a lot to go through it was worth it. I felt a little bit of a desire to help and do some good because this was helping make medicine that would save lives," she added. 

Armradit stated that if there’s an opportunity to volunteer for COVID-19 trials she won't hesitate to participate.

"Whatever they're doing, they're helping to save lives. The sooner we have a vaccine the sooner life goes back to normal, the sooner we can save millions of lives worldwide." 

Public health officials in the US believe that it might take at least a year before a vaccine was developed and put into widespread use. 

"We can't rely on a vaccine over the next several months to a year. However, if this virus, which we have every reason to believe it’s quite conceivable that it will happen, will go beyond just a season and come back and recycle next year, if that's the case, we hope to have a vaccine," Dr Anthony Fauci had famously said.

Canada, China join hands for developing COVID-19 vaccine

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Canadian researchers are working with China to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, Canadian media reported on May 13, citing the country's National Research Council. 

 According to the report, human tests of Chinese vaccine candidate Ad5-nCoV, under joint development by a Chinese company and the Canadian military, will begin in Canada. 

The two countries have struck a deal to produce the vaccine in Canada for clinical trials and emergency use, the report added.

“China and Canada, since the outbreak of COVID-19, have actively supported cooperation to each other for active response,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, disclosed in Beijing. 

He observed that COVID-19 vaccine development was crucial and a key for mankind to overcome the pandemic. 

China has been actively engaged with Canada and other countries for development of medicines and vaccine for the COVID-19. 

“China is ready to work with international community, including Canada, to accelerate research and development of COVID-19 medical products and make safeguard global health and security and combat the pandemic,” the spokesperson added.

Traders, public reminded to follow SOPs

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Sindh Minister for Information and Local Government, Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, has reminded that the designed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the purpose of business activities must be followed in order to save human lives. 

In a statement issued on May 13, he clarified that the Government of Sindh had allowed the business community to carry out activities in accordance with the designed SOPs but it has been observed that neither the traders nor the people were following them, which was not acceptable.

Nasir Shah warned that the provincial government can also revert back the lockdown relaxation decision if the violation of SOPs was not stopped. 

The Minister insisted that nothing was more important than the lives of people and the traders were advised to implement the designed SOPs religiously in order to protect everyone from the virus. 

People from different walks of life have expressed their apprehensions as the markets and commercial areas of Karachi in particular have been flooded with people ever since lockdown was relaxed on May 11.

China prepares to host Asian Games 2022

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

After fighting successfully the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the preparations in China have resumed for building various projects to help facilitates for participants of the Asian Games 2022. 

In this regards, Zhejiang’s provincial government will build China’s first expressway that incorporates support for autonomous vehicles, People’s Daily, reported quoting local authorities.

The eastern Chinese province plans to complete the project ahead of the 2022 Asian Games. China has already hosted a couple of editions of the Asian Games. 

They first organized it at Beijing in 1990 and then at Guangzhou in 2010. Beijing was also the venue of the Olympic Games in 2008. 

The 2022 Asian Games, also known as XIX ASIAD, will be a multi-sport event to be staged in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, from September 10 to 25, 2022. 

The Games will also include athletes from Oceania for the first time after the approval from Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) to compete in sports which will serve as qualifiers for the 2024 Olympics, including volleyball, beach volleyball, basketball, football and fencing.

AJK President calls ailing NA Speaker

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The President of Azad Kashmir, Sardar Masood Khan, on May 13, had a telephonic conversation with the Speaker of the National Assembly Asad Qaiser in which he enquired about his welfare.

“He is fine and in high spirits and so are members of his family” the AJK President wrote on in his twitter handler. 

The NA Speaker Asad Qaiser, it may be added, is in self-isolation after his coronavirus (COVID-19) test proved positive. 

Asad Qaiser, while expressing gratitude for calling him, informed the AJK President that he and his family members were in extremely good health and in high spirits.

“Apparently, there are no sign of coronavirus symptom in him,” the AJK President reckoned while wishing the NA Speaker and his family robust health.