COVID-19: A Threat in Pakistan
Lahore, 25th June: The novel coronavirus has threatened the 21st century and changed the course of life as we had known it.
With around 7,941,404 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide and around 434,796 deaths, this virus has become a source of major concern and is continuing to rise.
What is it:
COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus, hence called the novel
coronavirus (CoV). This is a new virus related to the same family of viruses as Severe Acute
Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and some types of a common cold. The first case that originated from this virus was reported in Wuhan City, China, in December 2019. The evidence present
supports that SARS-CoV-2 has a zoonotic source and that it has not been constructed in a
laboratory, as they did not find a mix of known elements with genomic sequences in the virus.
Trends over the world:
As of 25th June 2020, there have been a total of 9,565,546 confirmed cases of coronavirus
worldwide and around 485,690 deaths. There has been a general trend of increase in the
number of cases of coronavirus across the world, the cases started to rise around the end of
March and has been on the rise since then. The data changes rapidly, but judging the trend, it is
an upward graph.
Trends across Pakistan:
In Pakistan, the total number of confirmed cases, as of 25th June 2020, is 193,000 and the total number of deaths due to coronavirus is 3,903. Cases in Pakistan started to increase in number
around the end of May and are rapidly increasing as of now, before May, the cases were
Dangers of COVID-19:
Symptoms of the disease:
Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms; however, older adults and people with underlying
health problems, such as heart or lung disease or diabetes, are a higher risk for developing more serious complications from this illness. The symptoms may appear 2-14 days after being
exposed to the virus, these symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or,
difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, the new loss of taste or smell, sore
throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. Emergency warning signs for
COVID-19 include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion,
inability to wake or stay awake and bluish lips or face.
Risk of fatality, including statistics:
For most people, COVID-19 causes only mild illness, but it can make some people very ill, whilst
in some cases, it can be fatal. Especially older people and people with pre-existing health
problems (such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart problems) are at a higher risk.
It has been discovered that the recovery time for people with mild illness is about two weeks.
Whereas, it may take three to six weeks for the people to recover who develop a severe or critical
How COVID-19 spreads:
1. Symptomatic Transmission: It is the transmission from a person who is experiencing the
symptoms. Data reveals that COVID-19 is primarily transmitted from symptomatic patients to those in close contact with them through respiratory droplets, by direct contact with infected persons, or by contact with contaminated objects and surfaces. Studies have also shown that shedding of the COVID-19 virus is highest in the upper respiratory tract (nose and throat) early in the course of the disease, which is, within the first 3 days from onset of symptoms. Preliminary data suggests that people may be more contagious around the time of symptom onset as compared to later on in the disease.
2. Pre-symptomatic Transmission: During the incubation period, also known as the pre-
symptomatic period, an infected person can be contagious. Hence, transmission from a
pre-symptomatic case can occur before symptom onset.
3. Asymptomatic Transmission: The transmission of the virus from a person who does not
show any symptoms. There has been no documented asymptomatic transmission as of
yet, however, this does not mean it cannot occur. 9
4. The virus can also be transmitted by touching surfaces infected with the virus and it can
survive on the surfaces for several hours, but a simple disinfectant can kill it. 10
Specific cases (areas):
Punjab: Confirmed COVID-19 cases from 17th May to 17th June are 58,239, 1,149 deaths have
been recorded and there have been 17,780 recoveries. Punjab records the highest cases and
deaths from COVID-19 in Pakistan.
Sindh: In the past month, there have been 57,868 confirmed cases, 886 number of deaths, and 29,245 recoveries.
KPK: There have been 19,107 confirmed coronavirus cases in this province, 731 deaths and
Balochistan: the largest province of Pakistan has noted around 8,437 confirmed cases, 89 deaths
and 3,023 deaths in the previous month.
Gilgit Baltistan: there have been 1,164 confirmed cases, 17 deaths and 738 recoveries from
coronavirus in this province.
AJK: 703 confirmed cases have been recorded and 13 deaths have occurred in the previous
month whereas there have been 290 recoveries.
Future predictions for Pakistan:
According to Imperial College London’s algorithm, coronavirus cases in Pakistan are expected to peak on 10 August 2020. They have predicted that around 80,000 deaths will occur that day. After this day,
deaths due to coronavirus are expected to witness a decrease in numbers.
According to research, coronavirus will end in Pakistan by January 2021 and the total death toll by this
the virus would be 2,132,617.
Preventative measures and recent discoveries:
Preventative measure include maintaining a good social distance (6ft), washing your hands often
with soap or water, frequent cleaning and disinfection of touched surfaces, covering mouth and
nose with a cloth when around people and cover cough and sneezes.
Vaccines and/or medication:
There is no specific treatment for this virus as of yet, but because it causes respiratory diseases,
they are treated. More than 60 vaccines are in development for coronavirus, but it will take 12
to 18 months for it to be declared to actually be used.
The drug Remdesivir has shown to be effective for its prevention. Preliminary data shows a faster recovery time of hospitalized patients with severe disease. 20 According to the World Health Organisation, treatments are being investigated and will be tested through clinical trials.
Another drug, Dexamethasone has been proven to be effective against coronavirus, as it is able to cut the death risk for patients on ventilators by a third and by a fifth for those on oxygen. It is a part of the world’s biggest trial testing existing treatments to see if it also works for coronavirus.
The cases in Pakistan have increased a lot in the past month, there are many reasons behind this, and
including the fact that Eid (the religious festival of Muslims) took place from 24th May -26th May and
the public went to meet each other.
Prior to this, they also went to mosques for offering prayer during Ramadan. Moreover, The Pakistani government did not implement the lockdown very strictly and malls and markets were open till 5 pm every day.
Flights were also allowed to commence during this month, hence due to all this exposure, the cases saw a rise in numbers.
The Prime Minister did not implement strict lockdown, keeping in mind the current socio-economic situation of the country and claiming how it would affect the daily wagers adversely and hence, decided to implement ‘smart lockdown’ instead.
Adding on to this, there is also a lack of testing equipment in Pakistan, and is also very expensive for the
rural population, which is 63.33% of Pakistan, 23 hence there is also a lack of accurate figures and the real numbers might be larger than this.
There is also a lack of hospital equipment like ventilators, hospital beds, and other vital equipment in Pakistani hospitals, which is another reason for higher death rates in Pakistan.
Therefore, it can be concluded that the cases will keep on increasing furthermore if proper lockdown is not implemented and people themselves do not take the necessary precautions.
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