COVID Watch (14th April 2020)


Multiple “Super-Spreaders”

A “super-spreader” infected 39 people and sent 170 others to hospitals under suspicions of having contracted COVID-19 in Sikandaria Colony in Lahore. The patient, a laborer, had traveled to Karachi to visit a family member and complained of flu-like symptoms and dry cough upon returning. Due to being illiterate, the patient was generally unaware of information regarding the virus as well as precautionary measures and continued his visits with relatives and neighbors. Police have sealed around 60 houses, and sealed the colony, declaring it a “red zone”.

Similar incidents of multiple “super-spreaders” are cropping up across Punjab, Recently, 4 people with a history of traveling infected 50 others in Gujrat.

Officers Test Positive

7 police officers in Karachi tested positive for coronavirus and have been sent to isolation wards, according to a statement by Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon on Monday, April 13. The infected personnel were not assigned any lock-down duties and had likely contracted the virus at their homes. Masks, gloves and other precautionary SOPs are being observed by officers during the lock-down – the Karachi police chief also stated that officials may get a day off in consideration of their health.

Treatment for COVID-19

Researchers at the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) in Sindh claim to have developed a low-risk and highly efficient immunoglobulin treatment for COVID-19 patients. The intravenous immunoglobulin was prepared using plasma donated by recovered patients. Laboratory testing has proven results, and researchers are now awaiting approval from the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) to conduct clinical trials.

Doctors Vulnerable

The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) has insisted on the revision of current government policy which restricts the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) to only those medics directly treating COVID-19 patients. The PMA cited the spread of the virus in Nishtar Medical Hospital in Multan that infected 38 medics including 17 doctors, which was traced to a doctor in the nephrology department who had treated an asymptomatic kidney patient. The PMA urged the government to supply N95 masks and PPE to all healthcare providers, stating that the healthcare sector will be dysfunctional if a large swathe of medics contracted the virus.

“Infected” Waste Unaddressed

Untreated waste from COVID-19 treatment & testing facilities, quarantine zones, isolation wards, and hospitals may contribute to the spread of the virus, experts warn. There is currently no SOP in place to treat or remove infected waste. Moreover, sanitary workers voice their concern over the lack of PPE, gloves, and masks, as removing infected waste may expose them to the virus, which may spread in crowded slum colonies where they reside.

Lock-Down Extended

The Punjab government has extended Section 144 for 2 more months due to a worrying increase in new cases of COVID-19 in the province as well as Rawalpindi. The provincial order also made evictions of tenants due to delay or non-payment of rent unlawful during the lock-down period. Under Section 144, a gathering of more than 5 persons are outlawed – Rawalpindi police have begun to crack down on offenders.

Inmates, Wardens Test Positive

6 prisoners and 2 wardens at the Central Jail Dera Ghazi Khan tested positive for COVID-19, according to jail officials. Samples for 13 other inmates have been sent for testing. The infected wardens have been shifted to Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital in Muzaffargarh, while the infected inmates have been quarantined in the prison. A 20-bed isolation facility has been set up at the Central Jail Dera Ghazi Khan.