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October 16, 2020

Pakistan’s first death due to Covid-19 re-infection reported

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October 16, 2020

KARACHI: The first death has been reported in Pakistan due to ‘COVID-19 re-infection’ when a senior leader of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Rashid Rabbani died due to complications of coronavirus infection at the Ziauddin Hospital Karachi on Thursday, officials said.

“Rashid Rabbani, 68, had been brought to the Ziauddin Hospital with COVID-19 re-infection last week and his condition was very serious. He had to be shifted to the ventilator but unfortunately, his condition continued to deteriorate and he passed away today evening,” said Dr. Asim Hussain, Chairman of the Dr. Ziauddin Hospitals, while talking to The News on Thursday.

Some major health facilities in Karachi including Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) and Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) said they have received cases of COVID-19 re-infection but added that so far no death had occurred among those who contracted the infection twice in their lives.

But the Chairman of Dr. Ziauddin Hospitals Dr. Asim Hussain claimed that RashidRabbani first contracted the Coronavirus infection in May this year but he remained asymptomatic despite getting COVID-19 positive through PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test and added that the second infection proved very lethal for him and he died due to serious complications of the disease.

To a query, Dr. Asim Hussain claimed that although COVID-19 cases were rising gradually in Pakistan, especially in Karachi, they were getting very serious and complicated cases of the infection, most of whom required intensive care and even ventilator support.

Another senior PPP leader and close friend of Rashid Rabbani, Waqar Mehdi also confirmed that Rabbani had first tested positive for COVID-19 on in May this year when he got himself tested from the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), saying Rashid Rabbani remained asymptomatic during the first infection, which lasted for a week only. “In May this year, Rashid Rabbani got himself tested from AKUH lab and the report said he had contracted the disease. He remained asymptomatic or had mild symptoms and after six or seven days, he got himself tested again and he was declared PCR negative by the same lab”, Waqar Mehdi said.

He further claimed that several weeks after contracting the Coronavirus infection, Rashid Rabbani also himself tested for COVID-19 antibodies but they were not detected in his blood and added that due to that, he had been advised by the doctors to continue taking precautionary measures and follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

“Last week Rashid got sick again and when his condition deteriorated and he started gasping, he was taken to the Ziauddin Hospital in North Nazimabad, where he was tested COVID-19 positive again. This time his lungs were badly damaged due to re-infection and after remaining at least six days on ventilator, he passed away today”, Mehdi said, adding that he has survived by his widow and a daughter.

Eminent infectious diseases specialist at AKUH and a member of COVID-19 Taskforce of Sindh Dr. Faisal Sultan told The News that re-infection with COVID-19 was very much possible and now they had started receiving patients with COVID-19 infections too at the AKUH but added that they don’t know the ‘severity of the infection’ second time. “Re-infection with Coronavirus is very much possible and now COVID-19 re-infections are being reported from all over the world. We are also having such cases at AKUH,” Dr. Faisal Mahmood said adding that presence of COVID-19 antibodies in the blood of a person does not guarantee that he or she would not get the infection again.

A senior official at the Dow University hospital in Karachi said he had also personally seen three to four cases of the COVID-19’s re-infection at DUHS, saying these patients were brought with severe symptoms of the disease to the hospital.

Dr Saeed Khan, an associate professor and head of molecular pathology at the Dow varsity, while talking to The News, claimed that the phenomenon of re-infection was being observed all over the world, and now doctors and experts dealing with Coronavirus cases in Karachi were also witnessing such cases.

“Re-infection is not a very widespread phenomenon here in Karachi, but doctors at different hospitals in the city are seeing one or two patients with COVID-19 re-infection. We have not seen any death after re-infection, but some patients have been observed with severe symptoms, who require admission and even life-support after getting re-infected,” said Dr Khan.

Even the Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar conceded that COVID-19 cases were rising throughout the country, including Karachi, saying: "National positivity of Covid cases was 2.37 per cent. This is the highest positivity rate in more than 50 days. The last time this level was seen on August 23."

In his tweets on Wednesday morning, Umar also highlighted an increase in virus deaths, saying. "The average number of Covid deaths during the first four days of this week was 11 per day, the highest since the week of August 10. Unmistakable signs of the rise of corona."