Friday, May 29, 2020

Coronavirus Update: Sindh’s record infection, limited facilities terrifying

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Amidst concerns that intensive care and high dependency units at hospitals, designated for coronavirus infected patients, particularly at Karachi, were under immense pressure due to shortage of trained staff, life supporting machines and beds, the health authorities on May 28 confirmed detection of another 1,103 COVID-19 positive cases, an all days’ highest figure since February 26 when the province reported prevalence of the disease. 

According to the health department summary, having resumed after a gap of four days, Sindh’s COVID-19 cases surpassed 25,000 at 9 am on May 28 while the provincial tally of relevant deaths was inching towards 400. Last time, the maximum number of new infections was reported in Sindh on May 9, with 1,080 cases. 

The experts, during official meetings and interaction with media, largely appeared fearful due to the given upward trend of the coronavirus disease and the related deaths, stressing need for more and more increases in the healthcare provisions both in terms of quality and quality in the available health settings.

They highlighted the role of intensive care (IC) or therapy units and high dependency units (HDU), saying ICU treats patients, whose lives are at risk mostly due to failure of lung or failure of kidney or heart and blood vessel. 

“Treatments include a ventilator taking over the patient’s breathing while the patient is anaesthetised, a dialysis machine cleaning the blood and drugs or machines supporting the heart and blood pressure,” they added, saying one in five patients in hospital may need ICU care. 

A source in the government said that a daily statement of ICU, HDU and isolation beds was seriously taken up during a high level meeting on May 27. 

The report pertained to 22 government designated healthcare facilities belonging to both the public and private sectors has obviously prompted the people at the helm of coronavirus affairs to address any anticipated untoward, particularly in the wake of recent doubling of the COVID-19 positivity rates in the province. 

According to the country wise data, updated on May 27, there were 2,377 ventilators at various hospitals in 13 major cities of Pakistan, out of which 708 were reserved for COVID-19 patients and only 128 were occupied.

In the meantime, as per the Sindh health department’s daily COVID-19 summary, 16 more deaths of coronavirus infected patients occurred in the province during the last 24 hours ending at 9 am on May 28, taking the provincial tally of deaths to 396. 

At Karachi, 12 patients including four females of age between 45 to 66 years, died. The eight male patients who lost their lives due to the lethal virus aged from 49 to 80 years. Hyderabad, Ghotki, Naushero Feroze and Shikarpur reported one death each, involving one female and three males in the age brackets of 62 and 72 years.  
As per recent practice. however, the health authorities did not reveal the names of hospitals or homes and medical history of the deceased patients. 

As many as 871 new cases were reported from Karachi division, followed by districts including Hyderabad (32), Kambar Shadadkot (32), Shikarpur (25), Larkana (20), Sukkur (19), Ghotki (18), Naushero Feroze (17), Khairpur (14), Jacobabad (11), Mirpurkhas (10), Thatta (10), Jamshoro (7), Sanghar (4), Tando Mohammad Khan (4), Kashmore (3), Dadu (2) and Shaheed Benazirabad (1). 

With the latest detection of positive cases, Sindh’s tally reached 25,309, while 1,924 patients, an all days highest, recovered from the diseases during the 24 hours, taking the number of cured COVID-19 patients to 11,190. 

On the other hand, Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, along with Sindh Minister for information, Syed Nasir Shah, and Sindh Health Secretary, Zahid Ababsi, visited an under construction 400-bed hospital building at old NIPA roundabout in Gulshan-e-Iqbal on May 28.

The building, according to the chief minister, would be made functional as the COVID-19 Infectious Diseases Hospital, under the supervision of Dow University of Health Sciences in one month time.

No afternoon curfew in Sindh on May 29

Pakistan News & Features Services

Unlike the Fridays during the last couple of months, lockdown in Sindh will not be intensified from 12 pm to 3 pm on May 29, it was officially confirmed.

The Sindh Information Minister, Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, announced that mosques will remain open on May 29 and congregations will be held as per the SOPs issued by the government. 

According to the SOPs, people above the age of 50, children and those suffering from the flu, however, will not be allowed to enter mosques whose management has been advised to remove all carpets and lead prayers on the bare ground.

It may be recalled that the provincial government had imposed a ban on congregational prayers on March 26 as a part of the measures imposed at stemming the spreading of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

The Information Minister further said that lockdown restrictions would remain in place till May 31 but business activities could be conducted during the specified hours on court directives. 

“The Supreme Court had ordered easing restrictions for Eid, but no new notification was issued. The notification issued by the government is still valid,” he stated.

NGOs join hands for ration distribution in Karachi

Pakistan News & Features Services

Serving Hands Organization and Combined Efforts Organization, headed by Dr Siakander Ali Shaikh and Yasir Hashmi respectively, continued their ongoing project of COVID-19 Eid Package Ration Camps by holding an event at Pir Bukhsh Goth Ghani Abad and surrounding villages. 

The two welfare organizations joined hands in free distribution of Eid dresses for ladies besides food packets. Earlier they had donated free PPE kits, head and foot covers, sanitizers, masks and gloves for doctors, nurses and paramedical staff at various hospitals. 

The Senior Vice President of Serving Hands Organization, Syed Ibne Hassan, remarked on the occasion that helping out needy people was in accordance with preaching of Islam and more efforts should be made for reaching out the suffering community.

China faces daunting task in slashing absolute poverty: Premier Li

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Premier Li Kequiang remarked that the China was determined to prioritize the work of meeting people's essential needs and achieve the country's target in poverty alleviation this year.

He stated that China now faced a daunting task in slashing absolute poverty. Before COVID-19 struck, there were about five million people living below the official poverty line. Because of the disease, some have fallen back into poverty. 

Premier Li Keqiang expressed these views while addressing a press conference after the closing of the third session of the 13th National People's Congress in Beijing on May 28. 

He took questions from Chinese and foreign reporters via video link. 

He disclosed that China will introduce more targeted and effective measures to further reduce corporate operating costs and the country will achieve its development goals for this year, as well as the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. 

“China still reserved policies in fiscal, financial and social security arenas and the country is in a strong position to quickly introduce new measures to keep its economic development on a steady course,” he added.

The Premier stressed that China's economic policies in coping with shocks of the novel coronavirus will focus on keeping jobs and protecting people's livelihoods. 

“The country focus will be on massive supportive policies and 70 percent of the funds from the supportive policies will be used to increase people's income, which can spur consumption and increase market demand,” he explained. 

“China and many other countries are investing into the research and development of vaccines, effective drugs and testing agents, which, when available, should become public goods. China is ready to share those products,” Li Keqiang announced. 

China, he said, will continue to manage any outbreak promptly and control the contagion in a scientific manner, and no cover-up will be allowed adding China's principle and policy toward Taiwan has been consistent, adhering to the one-China principle and the 1992 Consensus. 

"We are firmly opposed to Taiwan independence. On this basis, we are ready to communicate with any political party, group or individual in Taiwan to promote peaceful development across the Straits and peaceful reunification of the country," he declared.

“The national security legislation for Hong Kong is designed to ensure steady implementation of ‘one country, two systems’ in the special administrative region, as well as upholding its long-term stability and prosperity. It is the country's basic policy and the central government has always stressed the need to fully and faithfully implement the principle, under which Hong Kong people administer Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy,” he explained. 

“The decoupling of China and the United States, two major economies, will do neither side any good, and it is also harmful to the world. The differences, disagreements and even frictions are unavoidable given the two countries' differences in terms of social systems, cultural heritage and historical backgrounds,” the Premier narrated. 

"What's important is how we manage these disagreements and differences," he said, noting that the bilateral relationship has been moving forward in the past decades amid twists and turns. 

He called for international cooperation in offsetting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy, and said that China will firmly expand its opening-up to the rest of the world. 

Saying it's impossible for any country to achieve further development with its door closed, Li Keqiang reiterated China's commitment to the opening up policy and the country will introduce more opening-up measures on its own initiative. 

The Premier gave detailed answers to the various queries and also deliberated on China’s trade policies towards US, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

Crashed PIA plane’s Cockpit Voice Recorder retrieved

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

It was a big sigh of relief for the relatives as well as the investigation team of the May 22 PIA plane crash as the Cockpit Voice Recorder, the most important component that could greatly help in the probe, was finally retrieved by the authorities on May 28.

It took as many as six days after the plane had crashed in Karachi to locate the recorder from the debris, with the assistance of the Airbus investigation team. 

According to PIA spokesman, the Airbus investigation team had resumed its task to salvage the Cockpit Voice Recorder on May 28 and finally it succeeded after removal of big parts of the plane with the help of heavy cranes. The Cockpit Voice Recorder has been handed over to the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board. 

The PIA spokesman added that the airline team made all out efforts for the recovery of the Cockpit Voice Recorder, deemed to be one of the most important components that could help greatly in finding causes of the plane crash. 

The French investigation team, having already extended its stay in Pakistan, spent a busy third day while inspecting the crash site. They carried out special inspection of the damaged houses. 

Out of 97 deaths, the bodies of 49 persons have been identified so far and 44 of them were handed over to heirs. 

Meanwhile, the PIA and aviation officials have given initial briefing on the air crash at Karachi to Prime Minister Imran Khan.