COVID Watch | October 13th 2020

-Australia’s National science agency suggests COVID19 can survive on surfaces for 28 days -Over 400 shops sealed over SOP violations in Hayatabad -Karachi's coronavirus positivity rate climbs to 4.32% in the past 5 days


Myth or fact: COVID-19 lasts 28 days on surfaces?

A study by Australia’s National science agency suggests that the novel coronavirus disease can survive for up to 28 days on surfaces such as plastic banknotes and mobile phone screens, provided that the conditions are cool and dark. If people act carelessly and touch their faces after having contact with such materials within two weeks of contamination, they can likely get infected.

Researchers at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) disease preparedness center have found that the hotter the conditions, the lower the survival rate of the virus. According to CSIRO, the virus spreads mainly via the air and more research needs to be conducted to determine its transmission via surfaces.

However, Dr. Faheem Younus, the head of infectious diseases at the University of Maryland, termed the study ‘nonsense’. He explained in a tweet that this study and others like it are held in unnatural lab conditions which makes them unreliable.

Violation of SOPs in markets

On Monday, October 12, the Hayatabad district administration sealed nearly 400 shops in Karkhano Market after they were found violating SOPs (like wearing face masks) issued by the government in order to contain the spread of COVID-19. Despite opposition from trade unions, including the declaration of a shutter-down strike, this action was implemented. The various union of traders claims that the administration shut down their shops without informing them beforehand. Furthermore, they have threatened that if the government does not put an end to the raids, they will call for an indefinite shutter-down strike.

COVID-19 situation in Sindh

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Monday, October 12, said that the COVID-19 positivity rate in Karachi has rapidly risen to nearly 4.32 percent in the past five days. He said that Sindh is about to reach a daily testing capacity of 20,000 and that more tests have been carried out than Punjab despite it being the largest province.

He added that the provincial authorities have taken strong measures against those not following SOPs. Accordingly, many marriage halls, schools, and restaurants were issued warnings, fined, and even sealed in some cases. The Sindh CM stated that 2,549 patients across the province lost their lives to the pandemic to date. Overall, Pakistan’s coronavirus tally is far behind countries like India and the USA.

To continue combatting the virus successfully and avoiding a second wave, Prime Minister Imran Khan in a tweet urged the nation to continue following SOPs.

More schools closed as cases emerge

As the number of confirmed cases is increasing rapidly, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) predicts that the second coronavirus wave will be due to schools as the execution of SOPs is non-existent. The Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood announced that despite the concerns of a second wave, there is no intention of shutting down schools. So as schools remain functioning, other precautions are being put into action. The government is implementing smart lockdowns in areas with an increasing number of cases, and a delay has been proposed in the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) rallies.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) wants the COVID-19 testing amongst students to increase so that sufficient steps can be taken to prevent the expected second wave. Islamabad-based experts in the world health agency have said that carrying out 1,500 tests per day for the whole province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is far too little.

Since October 15, out of 34,964 swabs collected from students and faculty members, 360 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus disease. In Islamabad, the total school buildings which have been sealed since September 14 is now 21. The School administration was told to ask the staff and students to self-quarantine for 14 days.