Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Sino-Pakistan friendship anniversary celebrations begin

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

On the eve of May 21, the 69the anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan, the Pakistani students warmly responded to the letter from a Chinese primary school student in Beijing to mark the occasion, said the Chinese embassy spokesperson Wang Xianfend in a twitter message on May 20. ‘Cheen-Pak Dosti Zindabad’ their talk was very touching, he remarked.

It may be recalled that a Chinese student from Huiwen No.1 prime school in Beijing wrote a letter to friends from Pakistan talking about bilateral cooperation on COVID-19 in warm words. 

The school student, in his letter, expressed the feeling of pride in the China-Pakistan deeply-rooted friendship having passed on to new generations as he looked forward to further strengthening in future. 

To mark the occasion, a video titled ‘A response to Friend’ was also released with the start of handshaking between the top leadership of Pakistan and China, Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Xi Jinping. 

There were many other clips highlighting cooperation between the two countries in various fields, including joint venture of JF-17 Thunder painted with flags of both the countries, photos signing of various agreements, and remarks from Pakistani students highlighting the importance of friendship between Pakistan and China. In the background of the video, there was very touching words for the people of both the countries.

Locust attack termed more lethal than COVID-19

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Awais Leghari, a former federal minister, has termed the locust attack in different provinces of the country as more dangerous than coronavirus (COVID-19), giving a wakeup call to the incumbent government to take immediate steps to ensure food security.

In a video message, he was of the opinion that the present locust attack posed massive challenge to the agriculture economy of Pakistan. 

“The locust attacks had started eight months back in different part of Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab provinces. As all over the world, many means are being used including aerial spray through small plane to combat locust attack, the government has been urged to adopt every step to protect the crops and orchards from complete destruction,” he suggested. 

“Presently the locust attack was reported to be in full scale in various tehsils of Punjab including the one the sitting Chief Minister (Usman Buzdar) hails,” the former Minister pointed out. 

Awais Leghari warned that as per estimate the locust could damage eighty percent of Pakistan’s agriculture output, one needed to take immediate counter steps to safe remaining twenty percent of the crops. 

He added that the locust attack not only caused starvation for human beings but even for the animals as well.

Asian universities sign to fight pandemic

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan, along with 57 universities from 12 Asian countries, have jointly called for global solidarity to fight against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a statement, signed by members of the South and Southeast Asian University Network and released on May 19 by Chinese media, the group suggested stronger cooperation and mutual assistance through difficulties during the fight against the pandemic. 

The statement put forward 10 proposals to universities and colleges around the world, including actively supporting the anti-pandemic efforts made by governments of all countries, giving full play to the advantages of scientific research and strengthening of international cooperation in vaccine research and development besides material support and experience sharing. 

It also called on universities to fulfill social responsibilities in terms of educating the public and popularizing knowledge and skills in COVID-19 prevention. 

The statement was co-signed by 27 Chinese universities and 30 overseas universities from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. 

The South and Southeast Asian University Network was established in 2018 in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, and has become an important platform for regional people-to-people exchanges. 

Based on the statement, the secretariat of the South and Southeast Asian University Network will host a series of online workshops themed ‘Fighting against COVID-19 in Campus and Online teaching during the outbreak’ for member universities to share experiences.

Coronavirus Update: Record deaths in Sindh

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

After a dip for a day, the Sindh COVID-19 death toll hit a new all days’ highest of 19 on May 19 when the provincial health authorities witnessed a drop of over 150 cases in daily tally of new infections caused by the lethal virus. 

Deaths from the epidemic in Sindh had fallen to three on May 18, against nine the day before and 18 on May 12, the highest one day toll since the outbreak was confirmed on February 26 this year in the province.

As per the daily COVID-19 updates given by the Sindh health department, new cases dipped to 706 from 864 on May 18 against 787 on May 17. 

The latest fatalities occurred in Karachi (14), Shikarpur (2) and Thatta (1) in addition to two more deaths among Pakistanis returning infected with the viral from abroad but not resident of Sindh, pushing the overall tally of coronavirus deaths to 299 for the province. 

The two deceased stranded Pakistanis, including a woman, were aged 15 and 70 years respectively. 

At Karachi 10 men aged from 48 to 86 and four women aged from 55 to 71 years lost their lives but the health authorities neither provided their hospitalization history nor details about isolation at home of some of the deceased. 

Another two COVID-19 patients, aged 52 and 60 years, respectively died at Shikarpur, while an 80-year-old woman lost her life at Thatta. 

In the meantime, according to another COVID-19 report, updated on May 19, as many as 11 patients died at various hospitals, including AKUH, JPMC, Indus Hospital, CHK, SIUT and DUHS Ojha.

During the last 24 hours ending at 8 am on May 19, Karachi reported 608 new infections, followed by Hyderabad (20), Larkana (16), Kambar Shahdadkot (12), Jamshoro (10), Sukkur (6), Shikarpur (6), Khairpur (5), Jacobabad (4), Sanghar 93), Mirpurkhas (3), Ghotki (2), Dadu (2), Kashmore (2) while Badin and Tando Allahyar reported one new case each. 

The department summary revealed that as many as 4,741 recovered from the disease so far, including 252 who were discharged from hospitals on May 18, out of 17,947 confirmed cases in Sindh. 

It was learnt that 15 COVID-19 testing laboratories functioning in the public and private sectors collectively detected 945 positive cases, out of 3,803 samples. 

On the other hand, the Pakistan Medical Association leaders, including Dr Qaiser Sajjad, Dr Ikram Ahmed Tunio, Dr Salma Aslam Kundi, Dr Ashraf Nizami and others, after a meeting, observed that the relaxation of the COVID-19 lockdown will definitely increase the burden of the disease. 

The meeting noted that doctors, nurses and paramedics, who were fighting against coronavirus at the risk of their lives, were very much distressed of the coronavirus situation. “More than 1,100 healthcare workers have been infected with coronavirus, while 12 doctors have died so far.” 

The doctors’ leaders requested the general public to take care of themselves at their own and adopt preventive measure, particularly no hugging or handshaking in Eid days.

Plasma therapy test trials continue

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

A new clinical trial evaluating the efficacy and safety of plasma therapy, an emerging form of treatment for the coronavirus, in Pakistani COVID-19 patients is underway at the Aga Khan University (AKU) in Karachi. 

Convalescent plasma therapy involves separating blood donated by previous COVID-19 patients into plasma, a clear straw-coloured liquid, that contains antibodies and proteins that help fight infections. 

The plasma is then injected into a severely ill COVID-19 patient whose immune system may not be able to generate the antibodies needed to combat the virus. A single donation can potentially treat two patients.

There is currently no vaccine for the coronavirus and no approved form of treatment beyond managing its symptoms. The trial will generate evidence on whether plasma therapy, the only experimental treatment currently available for the virus, can help treat those suffering from acute complications from the virus. 

The researchers will perform three pre-procedural investigations on each donor to ensure their blood is safe from other infections and to check their suitability for the process of apheresis which collects plasma. 

Like a typical blood donation, the process is painless after the initial prick and lasts approximately two hours. Once plasma is transfused into a patient, the team will monitor the response to the treatment and assess its effectiveness through clinical and laboratory tests. Informed consent will be sought from all potential donors as well as those receiving the treatment. 

“Plasma therapy can potentially help treat patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 infection,” Dr Natasha Ali, who is part of a team of six faculty members from the departments of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and Internal Medicine, working on the trial, remarked.

“This trial is part of the University’s science-based approach to evaluating novel treatments that can help save lives during this pandemic,” she added. 

The AKU is also participating in Solidarity, the international clinical trial launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners, to find effective treatments for the coronavirus. 

The study has been approved by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan and Pakistan’s National Bioethics Committee.

Handbook on Field Isolation Centre launched

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

A panel of doctors working at the Field Isolation Centre, Karachi, has compiled a handbook of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and Protocols regarding the pandemic of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, who was the chief guest at its launching ceremony on May 19, lauded the efforts of the doctors for having made a consolidated endeavor to log their experience in the fight against COVID-19 and devise SOPs/Protocols in the form of the book which would serve as a guideline for smooth establishment of a similar facility in future. 

“This handbook is an excellent culmination of their efforts. it will help not only other national efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 but also those developing countries that lie in circumstances similar to ours who will use it as a guide map to building isolation centres in their own areas,” he reckoned. 

The organizers of the programme presented first copy of the handbook titled Field Isolation Centre-Karachi to the chief minister on the occasion. 

The launching ceremony was attended by among others by Dr Nuzhat Faruqui, Dr Waris Ahmed, Dr Muneer Amanullah, Dr Arish Haider, Faisal Edhi, Dr Mushtaq Chhapra besides Commissioner Karachi, Iftikhar Shalwani. 

The Field Isolation Centre was set up at the Expo Centre, Karachi, jointly by the Sindh Government and the Pakistan Army last month.

Sindh introduces app for home study

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Sindh education department has introduced an app to help facilitate school children to study at home during COVID-19 vacations, Senator Saeed Ghani revealed on May 20. 

The students from KG to 5th class can get education at home with this app, the senator tweeted. By using any android mobile phone, one can download SELD Learning app through play store. 

He advised the parents to resume their children’s education and encourage them in learning the subjects of Sindhi, Urdu and English at home.

Federal Minister starts development work in Karachi

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Development work, including road carpeting, has started in the constituency of Ali Haider Zaidi, Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs, and Member of National Assembly from NA-244 Karachi.

The road carpeting work in UC-5, PS-104 and NA-244 in Karachi Administrative Society’s Block 5 has started, the minister tweeted on May 19, adding that pavement work has also started in UC-6, PS-104 ward 3, Sector C, Street 32-33 Road.  
Meanwhile, the residents of these areas have expressed gratitude to the Minister for carrying out development work. 

Arshad Khan, an area resident, in his tweet message while thanking minister for carrying out development work has called upon MNA Ali Zaidi to pay attention towards Gulistan-e-Johar Chowrangi’s shabby roads. 

Another citizen, on the other hand, quoted Prime Minister Imran Khan having said in the past that this was the job of local bodies’ representative to carry out road construction not by the members of the National Assembly.

Chinese military medical team share experience with Pakistani counterparts

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The 10-member Chinese military medical team, headed by Major General Huang Qingzhen, visited the headquarters of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) in Islamabad on May 19.

The Chinese medical team shared their experiences of early identification, early isolation and early treatment which helped China to contain the pandemic 

It is pertinent to mention that the Chinese military medical team is currently undertaking an official visit to Pakistan having various specialists including disease control, pulmonologists, ICU, infectious disease and control, testing and nursing experts. 

The team was briefed about Pakistan’s efforts so far against the pandemic besides the future course of action including emergency response measures. 

The visiting delegation was informed about the TTQ strategy which is the cornerstone of Pakistani’s National COVID-19 efforts and helping the scale and scope of targeted lockdowns and containment efforts against the coronavirus. 

The NCOC officials thanked the visiting delegation for sharing their expertise and valuable input. They also thanked the visiting delegation for all out support extended by China in fight against pandemic in all domains. 

The Chinese delegation appreciated the NCOC for steering the national COVID effort with scientific approach as per health experts advises.