Thursday, May 28, 2020

Dubai reopens business with new normal

Pakistan News & Features Services

Dubai’s businesses reopening on May 27, after Eid holidays, may be just another news item but the day became significant because the city adopted a ‘new normal’ with the resumption of cinemas, gyms and educational institutions besides commercial establishments. 

Dubai, the regional hub of business, has not yet resumed welcoming back the tourists but that’s also on the cards very soon.

Huawei disappointed over Canadian court ruling

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Huawei Technologies Co has expressed disappointment over a Canadian court's ruling over its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, asserting that the company will continue to stand with Meng in her pursuit of justice and freedom.

The company released a statement saying that Huawei was disappointed in the ruling by the Supreme Court of British Columbia. They have repeatedly expressed confidence in Meng's innocence, The China Daily reported on May 28. 

The comments came after the court ruled on May 27 the extradition case against Meng could proceed. 

"We expect Canada's judicial system will ultimately prove Meng's innocence. Meng's lawyers will continue to work tirelessly to see justice is served," the Chinese multinational technology company said. 

According to the reports, Meng is currently detained in Canada. She was arrested at Vancouver International Airport by the Canadian authorities on December 1, 2018 and has been held under house arrest since then.

Australia, New Zealand contemplate reopening borders

Pakistan News & Features Services

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, declared on May 27 that a draft blueprint on safely starting travel between New Zealand and Australia will be presented to both governments in early June.

She revealed having spoken to her Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, on May 26 and there was enthusiasm for travel to resume on both sides. 

“We are working to move on this as quickly as we can. We are both very keen on it across both sides of the ditch. It won’t be too long before we are ready,” Ardern remarked during a press conference. 

Neighbours Australia and New Zealand happen to be among the most popular travel destinations to each other. Reportedly as many as 1.5 million Australians had visited New Zealand 2019. 

The two countries have been discussing the possibility of a travel bubble between them over the past couple of weeks after having slowed the spread of the novel coronavirus in their respective territories. 

The government and airport officials, besides airlines and health specialists have been working on the plan to re-open their borders with each other.

New Zealand becomes coronavirus free

Pakistan News & Features Services

By discharging it last remaining coronavirus (COVID-19) patient from hospital and having seen no new cases, New Zealand has become free from the virus on May 27.

Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director General of Health, informed media at the COVID-19 press briefing in Auckland that he reckoned it was the first time in months when no patients with the disease were being treated at hospitals. 

“Currently there is nobody in hospital with COVID-19 following the discharge of a person from Middlemore Hospital,” he declared. 

New Zealand’s first case of coronavirus was detected on February 28, according to the Ministry of Health records. 

The country has been widely praised for its handling of the pandemic, with just 1,154 confirmed cases and 21 deaths in the three-month period. 

Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has earned worldwide recognition for having taken a hardline approach to the country’s lockdown in a bid to stop the spread of the disease which paid handsome dividends.

Saudi Arabia has two new airports ready

Pakistan News & Features Services

As Saudi Arabia prepared to ease coronavirus containment measures, it has announced the opening of two new airports in the country which takes the domestic destinations up to 13. 

According to reports, the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) has confirmed the completion of operational readiness of Al Jouf and Arar airports as the domestic flights were set to resume on May 31. 

The GACA has pointed out that the readiness of the Kingdom’s airports was a part of new measures to gradually lift the suspension of domestic flights to ensure a safe journey for passengers through Saudi airports while taking preventive and precautionary measures. 

The move is being carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and relevant government agencies within airport facilities as the GACA will work in coordination with airports, air carriers and companies operating in the civil aviation sector to meet the demand in the local market. 

It had earlier notified the resumption of domestic flights in all domestic destinations during a two-week phased manner as 64 flights will resume each day in the first phase. 

The first phase will include the operation of King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, the King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah, King Fahad International Airport in Dammam. 

The other airports to resume domestic flights included Prince Mohammed Bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah, Prince Naif Bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Al Qassim, Abha International Airport, Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Tabuk, King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jazan, Hail International Airport, King Saud Airport in Al Bahah and Najran Airport.

Coronavirus Update: Sindh's infection rate doubles

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Sindh on May 27 witnessed a record daily increase in its COVID-19 positivity rates, rising to 32.10%, against the country’s average rate of 17.03% as the health authorities confirmed another 699 new cases of infections with six related deaths.

According to official data, the province’s coronavirus positivity rate on May 21 was at 15.99%, which rose to 23.85 on May 24 and 24.62% on May 26. Various testing laboratories operating in the public and private sectors conducted across the province as many as 2,177 tests for coronavirus during the last 24 hours ending at 9 am on May 27, out of which 699 were found positive. 

The guidelines suggest that the World Health Organization (WHO) likes to see countries testing at the level of ten negative tests to one positive, as a general benchmark of a system that's doing enough testing to pick up all cases.

In communities where most coronavirus tests are coming back positive, it's a sign there are many more cases there that haven't been found, the WHO officials had briefed in a press conference about two months back. 

However, local experts in infectious diseases and public health attributed the test trend to relaxed implementation of lockdown and limited working at the government designated COVID-19 testing laboratories and centres. 

Observing reason behind the sudden increase in the rate of new positive cases, Dr Naseem Salahauddin, Head of Infectious Diseases Department at the Indus Hospital, Karachi, said that it was expected after Ramazan taraweeh congregation, shopping in crowds without masks or distancing. 

The doctors and hospitals were under enormous pressure, she said adding that the community of doctors could foresee more problems looming ahead. 

An internationally acclaimed infectious diseases epidemiologist, Dr Rana Mohammad Safdar, a federal government personnel, remarked that active contract tracing has gone down and resultantly people with high suspicion of COVID-19 and clear signs and symptoms are self-reporting for testing.
“Active contract tracing activities depleted due to Eid vacations of rapid response team staff, misinformation that the virus is not really a threat and fear of being stigmatized,” he said.

A senior physician Dr Samreena Hashmi, former leader of Pakistan Medical Association, Sindh, reckoned that the overall number of tests has reduced lately as either people only with symptoms were getting tested and no random testing was being done. 

Prof M Rafiq Khanani, President, Infectious Control Society Pakistan, felt that the reasons behind the increase in the positivity rate included relaxation of lockdown, development of SOPs in the absence of infection control experts, reduced hours for grocery and other essential services, which resulted in public crowding. 

“Disinformation in social media presenting COVID-19 as hoax, propaganda that the disease can easily be cured, and lack of confidentiality of infected people’s information also resulted in people avoiding coming to tests until they have serious disease and have already transmitted infections to several others, most whole family,” he said. 

Dr Ashraf Memon, a senior pathologist associated with Kharadar General Hospital, was of the opinion that positivity rate may increase further in the coming two or three weeks. 

“The attitude of people in relaxed lockdown days has not been conducive towards containment of the diseases,” he regretted. 

Dr M Saeed Khan, Incharge COVID-19 testing labs at Dow University of Health Science, pointed out that during the Eid vacations almost all the testing centres had to face the manpower shortage and as such they tested the highly suspected cases only or those presented to hospitals with the disease’s symptoms. 

Since the referral of contract cases for tests from government’s tracking and rapid response personnel to laboratories reduced in recent days, the number of negative cases also reduced, he added, saying if the increase in the rate of COVID-19 positivity rate continues even after three or four days then it would be something more alarming and in line with  the earlier predictions about the disease’s peak. 

In the meantime, Sindh is inching to the overall figure of 25,000 coronavirus positive cases, as of 163,805 tests conducted across the province so far, 24,206 were found positive. The death toll came as 380. 

According to COVID-19 updates shared by the Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, there are 14,556 patients under treatment in Sindh, including 12,836 isolated at homes. 

A maximum of 559 new positive cases were reported from Karachi during the last 24 hours, he added, saying remaining positive cases were reported from Ghotki (24), Sukkur (11), Larkana (10), Mirpurkhas (7), Jacobabad (6), Badin (6), Hyderabad (5), Shikarpur (4), Jamshoro (3), Thatta (2) and other districts. 

According to the official data, the district wise breakdown of total reported cases, since February 26, came as Karachi’s six districts (19,322), Sukkur (807), Hyderabad (787), Khairpur (605), Larkana (592), Ghotki (461), Shikarpur (297), Shaheed Benazirabad (191), Jacobabad (177), Kamber Shahdadkot (132), Sanghar (123), Kashmore (75), Tando Mohammad Khan (65), Jamshoro (61), Dadu (52), Thatta (50), Matiari (48), Mirpurkhas (46), Badin (45), Naushehro Feroze (33), Sujawal (32), Tando Allahyar, (27), Tharparkar (11) and Umerkot (11).