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November 16, 2020

The second wave: New more lethal Covid-19 strain not showing up in tests, lasts longer

National

November 16, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Leading pulmonologist Dr Shazli Manzoor says a new COVID-19 strain does not show up in tests, is very severe and lasts longer than in the previous wave. “The virus has mutated and its lethality has increased in Pakistan,” the federal capital’s most sought after ICU and COVID-19 specialist disclosed during a chat with The News.

“Self lockdowns and minimal interactions must be observed and standard operating procedures [SOPs] must be followed without the loss of even a moment.”

Another expert, Dr Kaleem, agreed with the opinion of Dr Shazli Manzoor and said that his views should be taken very seriously because of his standing. He said that the disastrous impact of the second wave can only be alleviated to some extent by taking precautions.

Dr Shazli Manzoor, who attends to more than 100 patients every day apart from those admitted in hospital, said over the past three days, he he has seen an unprecedented spike in the number of coronavirus patients. Beds are filling up fast and ventilators are in short supply in the capital, he said. He added that there was no age limit for the new patients as children as young as one year, the old and young, men and women were now falling victim to the pandemic.

The specialist said that it was currently the flu season, and a COVID-19 attack along with the flu becomes a very deadly combination. He said that the next eight to ten weeks were very critical and it would be a great challenge for the health system to bear the brunt of new coronavirus patients. During this time, preventive SOPs have to be enforced to the maximum possible extent, he said.

Dr Shazli Manzoor was of the view that mere smart lockdowns in different areas was no solution. Not only would social but physical distancing of three-four meters would have to be maintained to avert the spread of Covid-19. This has to be enforced quickly considering the pace of the spread of the virus.

He did not approve of the idea of allowing wedding ceremonies in open spaces because people could easily get pneumonia due to the cold weather. “I have received patients who attended such weddings and fell ill.”

The specialist said that working from home, virtual meetings and online activities must be encouraged during this crucial period. He said that the opening of schools, colleges and universities have also helped spread COVID-19.

“Almost one-third of the patients have been found to be young,” he said, adding that very small classes may be introduced only when physical distancing could be ensured and other precautions strictly observed.

Dr Shazli Manzoor said that businesses like shopping malls, restaurants etc., have to be discouraged to a considerable degree in view of the fast spreading scourge. The specialist said that the only way to save oneself from COVID-19 was to avoid attending weddings and other parties, avoid going to shopping malls and restaurants and not engaging in activities where a lot of people get together. What is most essential is that masks must be worn and hands should be frequently washed. People who are taking the virus lightly are committing a grave mistake, he said.

He added that when in July the situation had improved, the experts had predicted that there would be an upsurge after a few months. “In fact, the second wave hit several countries, including the European states, before it struck Pakistan somewhat late. We had given the good news in August that we had been successful against Covid-19 but experts had warned about a second wave.”

Dr Shazli Manzoor said that the opening of tourist spots also helped spread the virus. “I have even received patients who got infected during their visits to areas such as the Khunjerab Pass and other mountainous tourist destinations in Pakistan. Such people stayed in hotels that were previously occupied by others who might have been COVID-19 patients.”