COVID Watch | 22nd July 2020


Virus may rebound if SOPs ignored

Experts warn that if SOPs are unheeded on Eid ul Azha, the virus will most likely rebound, and urge the government to strictly enforce SOPs such as setting up of smaller cattle markets outside cities, mandating masks, and enforcing social distancing during outdoor activities like prayer. Moreover, people must refrain from traditional cultural practices like going to visit one another on Eid and having large meals with many friends and relatives – in these scenarios, simply giving a “salaam” is enough.

Other dangerous diseases like the Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever may also erupt should SOPs not be followed in a committed and disciplined fashion.

Herd immunity still a question

Professor Dr. Tahir Sultan Shamsi predicts around 65-70% of Karachi’s population may develop coronavirus antibodies by September, which is the level required for herd immunity. He states that about 40% of the population in the city of Karachi has been exposed to COVID-19 by the this point, and that at least 65% to 70% would be in possession of virus antibodies by the first week of September; as a result, he predicts, Pakistan will be close to achieving herd immunity by that time.

However, the nation’s preeminent epidemiologist Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar refuted these claims, calling them majorly exaggerated. Prime Minister’s advisor on COVID-19 and infectious disease expert Dr. Faisal Sultan dismissed these predictions as well as they have been built on “single-source data”, and stated that it could not be used to make such broad, general claims about the contagion in Pakistan.

NDMA ill-prepared for hearing

Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed voiced his fury at the National Disaster Management Authority’s (NDMA) behavior and ill-preparedness in their responses to questions posed by the Supreme Court. He also took umbrage at the organization’s inability or, as he insinuated, refusal to justify the NDMA’s expenses with attacheddocuments, something that in Justice Ahmed’s opinion indicated that the NDMA was hiding something from the Supreme Court.

The CJP referred to the affair as a “spectacle”, adding that the court would recommend that the Prime Minister remove the Chairman of the NDMA and possibly close down the entire organization. The Attorney General then requested the NDMA to retract its response to the court and present a new, thorough, detailed reply, which would include the requested documents.

Provincial govt claim virus receding

The Punjab and Balochistan governments claim that COVID-19 cases are on the decline in their provinces, while the Sindh Government announces both the lowest death rate and the best recovery rate in the country.

In Punjab, new cases have fallen to below 300 for the first time since May. Many credit the province’s smart lockdown policy; the total number of recorded infections in the province currently stands at 90,444, of which 66,000 people have recovered.

Meanwhile, according to the Spokesperson of the Balochistan Government Liaqat Shahwani, the amount of new coronavirus infections has decreased by about 50% relative to the situation in May and June in the province. However, Shahwani stressed that the province could not afford to let their guard down – should SOPs be ignored on Eid ul Azha, the contagion could resume its aggressive streak.

Murtaza Wahab, Spokesperson for the Sindh Government, boasted the best recovery rate and lowest death rate, which he attributed to increased testing (the provincial government claims to have performed over 449,900 tests) and contact tracing. The Sindh government also reiterated prior criticisms of the federal government’s handling of the pandemic, stating that leadership in Islamabad had not done enough to keep the virus under control.