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January 15, 2021

Covid-19 cases surging in Karachi due to ‘ideal weather’

Karachi

January 15, 2021

Covid-19 cases have started surging again in Karachi as its current cold weather with moderate humidity is most suitable for the spread of the virus, while its dense population with millions living in slums and regularly-held “super spreading events” are other contributing factors behind the surge, experts said on Thursday.

“Cold weather with moderate humidity in the range of 45-60 per cent is the ideal weather for the spread of the coronavirus and that is why its cases are surging in Karachi where its positivity was 15 per cent today as compared to national positivity rate of 7 per cent,” Dr Shahzad Ali Khan, a professor of public health at the Health Service Academy, Islamabad, told The News on Thursday.

Provincial health authorities said 11 more people died in Karachi overnight due to Covid-19, raising the death toll to 3,755 in the province, while 1,235 new cases were recorded when 13,008 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours.

Dr Khan said another contributing factor behind Karachi’s high positivity rate was its dense population where millions of people were living in areas and houses with little ventilation and space. He added that the holding of “super-spreading events” was also a regular feature which was contributing to the spread of the coronavirus in the port city.

“Super-spreading events are events where people are regularly interacting with each other without adopting any preventive measures, and this is happening in the bazaars, markets and other crowded places, large factories and places in Karachi. Combined with excellent weather and the dense population, this factor is helping in the spread of Covid-19 in Karachi twice more rapidly as compared to the rest of the country.”

He said Peshawar had the second place in the spread of Covid-19 in the country where the positivity rate was around 10 per cent. He was of the view that Pakistan’s positivity rate could be quite low if the spread of the virus was controlled in Karachi and Peshawar.

Responding to a query, he said positive cases should be under 10 per cent in any city, but in case of Karachi, it was 15 per cent. The graph showed that after touching 21 per cent in the first wave in Karachi, the rate of positive cases declined in the city, but now it was again on the rise, which should be a cause of concern for both the people and the authorities.

Another health expert, Dr Tahir Hussain, said that apart from the callous attitude of people in Karachi, there was no serious effort made by any government agency to enforce the standard operating procedures (SOPs) announced by the provincial government.

“It seems they have given up. You can see that in weddings, markets and on the roads. They issue instructions just on paper but do nothing to enforce it. Enforcement requires honesty and dedication as the way is littered by corruption. It seems there is a public-private partnership in not enforcing the SOPs.”

11 more deaths

Covid-19 claimed 11 more lives in Sindh, mostly in Karachi, raising the death toll to 3,755. The condition of another 817 patients was said to be critical while 92 were on life support, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said on Thursday.

As many as 1,235 new cases emerged when 13,008 tests were conducted, he said in his daily coronavirus situation report. He said 13,008 samples were tested against which 1,235 people were diagnosed as positive, constituting a 9.5 per cent detection rate. He added that so far 2,538,842 tests had been conducted, which detected 231,953 cases, and 91 per cent of them or 210,774 patients had recovered, including 647 overnight.