COVID Watch (7th April 2020)


Drive-Thru Testing in Karachi

An increasing number of people are opting for drive-thru screening and testing units set up in Karachi to avoid long waits and crowding at government hospitals that would potentially risk exposure to COVID-19. Appointments for a swab test can be arranged by calling 021-99203012. Individuals can receive test results the day after screening/testing via phone call or WhatsApp message.

Infected Doctors Attempt Escape

11 coronavirus-positive doctors were apprehended by police after escaping the Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital in Muzaffargarh during the early hours of Monday morning. The doctors had contracted the virus while treating COVID-19 patients at the Teaching Hospital in Dera Ghazi Khan. Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital management allege the doctors misbehaved with staff and resisted security before breaking out of the hospital, damaging some of the furniture during the process.

The police were immediately informed of the incident, who managed to intercept and take the doctors into custody. The infected doctors were shifted back to DG Khan.

Punjab Hit Hard

Around 500 new COVID-19 cases emerged in Punjab within 24 hours, bringing the province’s tally up to nearly 2000, half the national total. Of the emerging cases, 268 were pilgrims from Iran, 84 were Tableeghi Jamaat attendees and preachers, 21 were prisoners. Lahore lost its seventh patient to the disease, bringing the total casualties in the province to 15.

Polio Risk Exacerbated

Pakistan risks disruption to its polio immunization campaign due to the COVID-19 outbreak as polio cases continue to emerge in all four provinces. Pakistan currently accounts for two-thirds of the global tally of polio affectees according to the World Health Organization. The global effort for the eradication of polio may be severely set back as restrictions on movement and social interactions amidst the spread of COVID-19 will result in worryingly large gaps in immunizations.

Moreover, the current strain on health units, shortage of medical equipment and diversion of funds to treat coronavirus cases may also disrupt Pakistan’s ant-polio campaign long after the pandemic has abated.

OPD Closures Decried

Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed expressed his regret over the closure of out-patient departments (OPDs), leaving non-coronavirus patients “at the mercy of God”. The health sector has been grossly affected by the pandemic. The rapid depletion of current blood stocks and lack of new supplies threatens the treatment and survival of thalassemia patients who must undergo regular dialysis. Pakistan is also facing a spike in polio cases as routine vaccinations have been disrupted due to the country-wide lockdown.

Students Stuck in Afghanistan

Pakistani medical students stranded in Jalalabad, Afghanistan pleaded with the federal government in a video message to be allowed to return home. The closure of shops and rapidly diminishing finances have made it extremely difficult to acquire essential items. Students claim the Pakistani Consulate in Jalalabad has been unable to arrange evacuation. Students are now turning toward the government to arrange transport so they may return to their country while borders still remain open.