Swabi school closed over COVID-19 cases

A boys’ high school in Yar Hussain in Chota Lahor, Swabi, became the first school in the district to be sealed after the emergence of four coronavirus-positive cases on Monday, October 19. Officials have issued directives to the schools, colleges, and three universities in the district to follow health protocols to prevent the further transmission of the viral infection.

Air pollution may contribute to COVID-19 fatalities

In an October 15 letter, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) issued orders to divisional commissioners in Punjab to take the necessary measures to control smog. The orders followed the increasing levels of air pollution due to smog, especially in Lahore, which may exacerbate the COVID-19 situation in the province.

Air pollution, which also includes smog, results in a number of respiratory illnesses, such a difficulty breathing, asthma, respiratory tract infections, and other morbidities such as heart disease. As there is mounting evidence that the novel coronavirus disease affects the respiratory system, the likelihood that COVID-19 fatalities may increase due to rising air pollution levels is worryingly high.

The letter instituted a ban on all activities that may contribute to smog levels, including burning crops to return nutrients to the soil, unchecked factory emissions, waste burning, and burning of substandard fuel, encroachments that may stall or hinder traffic, and vehicles emitting smoke. Furthermore, the Punjab government has ordered the closure of all brick-kilns within the province from November 7 till the end of the year, and all kilns to shift to the more environmentally friendly zig-zag technology to control smog levels.

COVID-19 deaths reported

Three patients succumbed to the novel coronavirus disease on Monday, October 20, in the isolation ward of the Nishtar Hospital in Multan. Officials report the number of COVID-19 patients at the hospital is steadily increasing, with 28 suspected cases currently under treatment and seven on life-support. The hospital received a total of 2,040 suspected COVID-19 cases to date, of whom 680 were diagnosed positive.

The twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi reported another virus-related death on the same day, in addition to 93 fresh cases. 73 of these new infections were detected in Islamabad alone. Total active cases in the region have risen to 1,130. Meanwhile, Sindh reported two fatalities and 286 fresh COVID-19 infections. With the death of two individuals, the death rate in the province dropped to 1.8 percent, while the case positivity fell slightly to 3.8%.