COVID Watch | 23rd July 2020


COVID-19 rebounds in Karachi

Karachi sees an increase in new coronavirus infections by Wednesday, July 22, with 714 confirmed cases, nearly double that of Tuesday’s 324 cases.

Of a total of 1,109 cases reported in Sindh yesterday, 714 were from Karachi and the remainder in other parts of the province. According to a statement from Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, of the 714 cases reported in Karachi, 302 were reported from the Central district, 200 from the East district, 94 from the South district, 87 from Korangi, 39 from Malir and 31 from the West district.

Furthermore, 19 virus-related deaths were reported, taking the death toll in the province to 2,060. Sindh has reached a total of 115,213 cases.

This increase in infections arrives after several days of declining emerging cases. Experts have warned that this development is a sign that the virus will not be so easily dealt with, and that people must keep their guard up.

Airborne virus likely infectious

A University of Nebraska study reveals that SARS-CoV-2 contained in airborne microdroplets is able to multiply in a lab environment, suggesting that microdroplets may indeed transmit the coronavirus through speaking and breathing, as well as just coughing and sneezing.

The study has yet to be peer-reviewed or appear in a medical journal but is apparently due to be published in a journal soon; the results are not final as of now.

KP to investigate declining deaths

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has launched an inquiry into the decline in COVID-19 death rate in the region. While the federal government claims the fall in virus-related deaths is due to fewer infections, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is investigating whether this is actually because fewer patients are visiting hospitals.

Rumours such as patients being injected with poison in COVID-19 wards at government hospitals in order to present a higher death toll, as well as fears of hospitals refusing to hand over bodies to families and prevent them from performing their last rites should patients succumb to the virus has prompted a notable decline in hospital visitations.

Afghan girls design ventilator

An all-female robotics team in Herat, Afghanistan has created a low-cost, lightweight ventilator. The seven young women, who are part of the Afghan Robotics Team and have won accolades globally for their robots, have designed an open-source ventilator to treat COVID-19 patients.

The team began work on the project in March 2020 just as the pandemic began to wreak havoc in Afghanistan. The ventilator is partially based on a design by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the team was offered guidance by experts at Harvard University.

Said one of the team’s members, Somaya Faruqi, “We are delighted that we were able to take our first step in the field of medicine and to be able to serve the people in this area as well.”

The Afghan Health Ministry has expressed its pleasure at the new ventilator, and has stated that once it is approved, it will be set for mass manufacture for use in hospitals across Afghanistan as well as for exports.

Pakistanis desperate for plasma

Coronavirus patients and their families are growing desperate for a cure, seeking unverified plasma treatments online. Though treatment through blood plasma transfusions has been speculated upon as a possible treatment for the virus, and numerous countries including Pakistan are currently running medical trials to ascertain the efficacy of the treatment, it is currently difficult to ascertain what, if any, value this treatment holds at it is still in the trial stage.

However, this has not stopped increasingly desperate Pakistanis from seeking such treatments, even turning to the black market to obtain them. Blood plasma obtained on the black market is not screened or held up to any regulatory standard to determine its origin – it can carry infections or impurities, and is incredibly risky to use in transfusions.

Furthermore, dealers on the black market exploit the vulnerable, be they unwell individuals or their anxious families, and extract hundreds of dollars from these people. Some plasma treatments have been successful, but the procedure is still unverified.