COVID Watch | 12th August 2020


New COVID-19 cases in Punjab, Sindh

Punjab has seen 109 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total confirmed case count (as per government records) to 94,586. The province also experienced 4 deaths from the virus, during the same timeframe. Meanwhile, 429 people have been infected in Sindh, bringing the case count to 124,556, and another 8 people have died, bringing the death toll to 2,290, all during the past 24 hours.

WHO to review Russian coronavirus vaccine

After Russia announced that it had created a vaccine for Coronavirus, the World Health Organization stepped in to say that any vaccine that the WHO-approved would have to undergo a thorough data review. Speaking at a press conference, WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic has said that the organization is having “ongoing” discussions with Russian health officials “with respect to possible WHO pre-qualification of the vaccine”. Any pre-qualification by the WHO “includes the rigorous review and assessment of all the required safety and efficacy data”.

3 Rawalpindi COVID-19 wards shuttered

Covid-19 units of 3 state hospitals in Rawalpindi- Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH), Holy Family Hospital (HFH), and the District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital- have been shut down by the Punjab government in light of decreasing cases and deaths in the city of Rawalpindi. There is only one government facility left for COVID patients in Rawalpindi, the Rawalpindi Institute of Technology (RIU). Meanwhile, dengue wards have been opened in the same three hospitals in Rawalpindi as the threat of that disease heightens.

SOPs ignored in Lahore’s reopened marketplaces

As Lahore’s markets reopen for the first time after lockdown, they are flooded by crowds uninterested in following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)- marketplaces are packed across the city, with few shoppers wearing masks, sanitizing their hands, or stopping for mandatory temperature checks. While traders have put up required notices about SOPs, few customers have followed any of them, which is something that shopkeepers, who are thrilled to have a business for the first time in months, cannot necessarily afford to challenge them on. While the Secretary Primary and Secondary Health Care Captain Muhammad Usman asserted that all businesses would obviously follow SOPs, customers who have visited markets in masks have been shocked to see that most other shoppers, as well as shopkeepers, are totally disregarding SOPs- few shopkeepers even provide hand sanitizers as they are required to.

Government initiates ‘micro-smart lockdowns’

As announced by Planning Minister Asad Umar, the government will be moving from its original, large scale lockdown to ‘micro-smart lockdowns’. The strategy was discussed by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), of which Umar is Chair, and is essentially one where particular areas with high rates of infection are locked down, like large buildings with multiple housing units, or small, close-knit neighborhoods. Asad Umar has stressed that the threat of the virus had not dissipated and that people should not take the lifting of the nationwide lockdown to mean such a thing. He stressed that the number of new infections and deaths may spike again if people stopped following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).