The second wave is more virulent

November 22, 2020

Between November 10 and 17, there were 84 deaths due to coronavirus and 4,103 new cases

The second wave of novel coronavirus is proving more fatal than the first. The mortality ratio in the Punjab, however, is almost identical to the pandemic’s peak in mid-June this year.

The mortality rate for the past week was 2.04 percent; it had been 2.15 percent during the peak of the first wave of coronavirus in the Punjab.

Between June 10 and June 17, as many as 376 deaths were recorded amongst documented Covid-19 patients and 17,420 new infections reported. Between November 10 and November 17, there were as many as 84 deaths due to coronavirus and 4,103 new cases.

“The second wave of coronavirus is nearly fatal as it is virulent. The virus is claiming lives of victims faster than it did in the first wave,” said Wajahat Baqi, a 30-year old patient who has suffered a re-infection. He blames it on the non-seriousness many people have shown in adhering to safety measures to prevent the virus.

Talking to The News on Sunday, Baqi says it is extremely distressing to have to suffer because of what one sees as negligence on someone else’s part. He says he got the re-infection from a friend who was Covid-19 positive but had not isolated himself or disclosed his status to him. “I have been diagnosed Covid-19 positive for a second time after contracting the virus in June 2020. The tests were done in private labs,” he says. He emphasises that the threat is real, and highlights the point that nobody is immune to the disease even if they have had it before.

He says his wife too has tested positive for the virus. Now that both her parents are quarantined at their home, he says, looking after his minor daughter is another challenge. He says people should learn from his example and do everything in their power to avoid contracting the dreaded virus.

Wajahat Baqi says the virus has affected his olfactory sense. “During first infection, I lost my sense of smell for a couple of days before I recovered it. In the second infection, the loss of smell has lingered for longer; it’s my fifth day of infection and I have still not got it back,” he says. He adds that the fever, the cough and the sore throat, too, feel more harsh, though not severe.

Baqi says many people were making the mistake of taking the coronavirus infection risks lightly. This showed in their carelessness about following the standard operating procedures (SOPs) which was accelerating the second wave. He says he believes that while only around 2,000 new cases are reported countrywide daily, this is only the tip of the iceberg and that the actual prevalence was much larger. He says most suspects for coronavirus infections were not getting tested and going about mixing with vulnerable people.

Ms Tehmina, another case of re-infection treated at Mayo Hospital, Lahore, says she has tested positive for coronavirus twice in six months. She believes she got the second infection during the funeral rites for her father. “Thankfully, I have been discharged from Mayo Hospital after making a full recovery,” she says. She says she recovered quickly as she did not delay reporting to the corona-designated hospital as soon as the infection was diagnosed. Earlier, she said, the condition of her two sisters-in-law had deteriorated and became critical after they sought treatment at a non-designated hospital.

Tehmina advises people to avoid gatherings and not frequent public places as this can help prevent transmission of coronavirus. She advises against isolation at home. “People diagnosed with the virus should realise that home isolation carries the risk of virus transmission to other family members,” she said. She is all praise for the quality of healthcare services provided to the coronavirus patients at Mayo Hospital.

Khurram, a patient being treated at a private hospital in Lahore, says the malevolence of the virus in the second wave is very great. “Every day, we see people around us losing their lives to the virus in a matter of days,” he says. The natural immunity, it appears, is no longer as strong as it was during the first wave of coronavirus, he says.

The number of critical patients being admitted to the hospital with coronavirus has been increasing by the day. All 244 Covid-19 patients, admitted to 32 hospitals in Lahore by November 17, are in a critical condition, requiring oxygen.

He advises people to take care of themselves and strictly observe government the SOPs prescribed by the government to help contain the spread of virus. Otherwise, he says, the government will be left with no choice but to enforce another lockdown that will have grave economic implications.

Sajjad Kazmi, who has recently been diagnosed with Covid-19 for the first time, blames himself for not observing the SOPs. “We see many people out in the streets flouting the SOPs with impunity. I was one of them,” he says. He says the virus is getting transmitted more quickly in the current wave and the onset of winter has made the symptoms more sever. “I have lost all sense of smell and taste,” he says, adding that he has isolated himself at home in compliance with health authorities’ instructions.

He praises the government for the efficiency of the arrangements it has made. He says Health Department are regularly following up on his case to assess his condition and progress. Earlier, he says, they had sent the diagnostic report to his home address after he had deposited a sample at the Institute of Public Health (IPH), Lahore. He says the government should again enforce a lockdown to stop virus transmission.

Mayo Hospital CEO Prof Asad Aslam Khan, who is also in charge of the Corona Department and was a co-chairman of the now-defunct Corona Experts Advisory Group (CEAG), says no re-infection cases have been documented in the Punjab so far, primarily, because antibodies test to confirm re-infection were not being done. “The Covid-19 re-infection can be determined through IgG and IgM tests or through quantitative as well as qualitative Elisa tests,” he says. He says some patients are choosing the antibodies tests done by some private labs. Meanwhile, government labs are providing the facility only of PCR tests for coronavirus.

Khan warns the public of a rapid spread of second wave of coronavirus. He says the number of critical patients being admitted to the hospital with coronavirus has been increasing by the day. “All 244 Covid-19 patients, admitted to 32 hospitals in Lahore by November 17, are in a critical condition, requiring oxygen,” he says. However, he expresses satisfaction with the treatment saying the recovery is up to 98 percent. He says patients with mild symptoms and asymptomatic patients should isolate at home as this reduces the burden on hospitals and allows hospitals to focus on the more serious patients.

He advised people to use masks with the same seriousness as a vaccine, observe social distancing and consider hand-hygiene a medicine to avoid contracting the disease and to prevent its spread among the population at large.

Prof Javed Akram, the vice chancellor of University of Health Sciences, Lahore, says the virulence of coronavirus in the second wave is severer than the first one due to several factors including the change of weather, risk of re-infections and mixed infections with dengue, malaria and influenza, etc. “Since people are exposed to multiple risk factors, they need to be extra cautious to safeguard themselves and others from the deadly virus,” he adds.

Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department (P&SHD) Secretary Capt Muhammad Usman (retired) says smart lockdowns are being enforced in coronavirus hotspots in six cities in the Punjab.

The author is a staff   reporter for the   The News International

Coronavirus: The second wave is more virulent