COVID Watch | 20th July 2020


Covid curve flattens but doctors urge caution

Over 204,000 people have reportedly recovered from the Coronavirus, which is about 78% of the approximately 263,400 cases that have been reported nationwide, signaling that the pandemic has peaked, and the curve is indeed flattening. 1,579 new cases have been recorded nationwide over the past 24 hours; the daily total has not been this low since May. However, doctors across the country continue to warn the population about the dangers of becoming complacent to the threat of the virus, which, as witnessed in other countries, can bounce back at any time should we stop following SOPs or should our government’s response lapse. In a poll by the Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA) and Gallup Pakistan, 66% of doctors stated their professional opinions that the lockdown should continue for the foreseeable future, at least until the situation is fully under control, which they stress that, at the moment, it is not.

Downward trend in cases in Rawalpindi

In the previous week, Rawalpindi has witnessed a decline in Coronavirus cases, with only 12 new cases on Sunday. Captain Mohammad Mehmood, Rawalpindi Commissioner, highlighted a decrease in the number of patients in state hospitals, and in those that required ventilators. He also stated that the graph of serious patients was “static”. Meanwhile, Islamabad registered 72 cases during the same timeframe as its counterpart city, though there were no deaths during the 24-hour window. The total number of cases in Islamabad is now reportedly 14,576.

Covid-19 bounces back worldwide

The Coronavirus has experienced a major global resurgence, affecting countries from India to the United States in increasingly drastic ways. The global death toll has surpassed 600,000 as nations continue to struggle in dealing with the virus. The US is a prime example of such a struggle, topping the list of countries with the highest Covid-19 death toll, at 140,000 out of over 3.7 million cases. The deeply divided nation has seen infections skyrocket in more conservative states like Florida, Texas, and Arizona; many blame what appears to be an incredibly partisan attitude to SOPs and lockdowns, as well as the transformation of wearing masks from a common-sense, public health issue to a political one, with some Americans refusing to wear them. Meanwhile, Spain has shut down its beaches and Hong Kong has issued tougher rules on wearing face masks.

SOPs to be followed for Muharram processions

Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen has announced that mourning programs in the month of Muharram will go ahead, however mourners will be required to follow strict SOPs to keep infections out of mosques and protect communities. The group stressed the importance of Muharram mourning processions, equating their ritual importance with that of prayer, and were clear that they will continue as planned and people will be able to participate. However, they were clear about the need to abide by SOPs. Secretary Allama Jafari said that this had been discussed at a meeting with the MWM’s Majlis-i-Shura, and that provincial and district administrators would receive communications relaying the decisions made.

Zafar Mirza advises not overemphasizing tests in case count

The PM’s aide on health affairs said that Pakistan’s declining case-count is related to other factors as well. He stressed that while testing was absolutely relevant, there were other indicators independent of testing that signaled a declining case count, such as fewer visits to hospitals, less patients occupying ICUs or oxygenated beds, and a lower death rate. However, the federal government’s political opponents have accused them of downplaying the large reduction in tests. Dr. Mirza has addressed this, stating that the government had discussed the reduction and decided to increase testing, but also stresses that Pakistan’s success with handling the Coronavirus has been the result of an early lockdown, SOPs, contact tracing and a significant improvement in healthcare management.

Ulema will encourage simpler Eid celebrations

The Ulema have agreed to encourage people to follow Covid-19 guidelines and SOPs during Eid. Following Eid-ul-Fitr, when many people brushed aside government guidelines related to the Coronavirus, leading to a major surge in infections, the Ulema have stated that they will advise people to celebrate Eid-ul-Azha on a smaller scale so as to maximize public safety. They have pledged to encourage people to follow government guidelines for mosques to protect themselves from the virus.