COVID-19: Pakistani celebrities who have lived to tell the tale

(L to R) Singer Abrar-ul-Haq, Actress/Host Nida Yasir, Actor/Director Yasir Nawaz and Fashion Designer Maheen Khan.
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Updated 07 July 2020

COVID-19: Pakistani celebrities who have lived to tell the tale

  • Arab News speaks to notable Pakistanis about their experience testing positive for the coronavirus and the road to recovery 
  • Around 234,509 Pakistanis have so far tested positive, many of them politicians and celebrities from the entertainment and fashion industries 

KARACHI: As more and more notable Pakistanis test positive for COVID-19, Arab News spoke to some members of the entertainment and fashion industries about their experience with the coronavirus, the road to recovery and the lessons learnt along the way: 
Abrar ul Haq, famed singer, politician and philanthropist, told Arab News on Sunday that he suspected he had caught the virus while building a coronavirus hospital in Lahore, and soon learnt that his wife and son were also positive, though his one-and-a-half-year-old daughter was not. The family immediately quarantined in different rooms of the house for almost 20 days and received advice from doctors over the phone while the daughter was sent to live with her grandmother.
Haq said he had used his time in quarantine to produce a song, soon to be released on his YouTube channel, which paid tribute to the doctors and nurses fighting against the coronavirus outbreak.
Yasir Nawaz, a film and television actor and director, and his wife Nida Yasir, a famous morning show host, both tested positive for the coronavirus in May, and quarantined themselves in the upper portion of their house, isolating themselves from their children and household staff. The maids who brought them food were given PPE suits to wear, Yasir said. 
“We used disposable plates and cups and didn’t waste our trash outside but kept it in a separate place on the terrace,” Yasir added. 
An asymptomatic carrier, she tested negative for the virus in 14 days and believes a clean diet and strong immune system might have helped keep her safe from complications.
“I was already taking lots of fruits and vegetables,” she said. “Besides I was regular on Vitamin C, Zinc and Calcium for my general wellbeing, that also worked against COVID.” 
Yasir said she had wanted to donate her plasma but doctors advised that as an asymptomatic carrier, her plasma probably had not produced enough antibodies needed for the treatment, which involves the infusion of plasma from a recovered COVID-19 patient to a recovering one as a source of antibodies, a widely sought method in Pakistan despite limited information on its effectiveness.
Yasir’s husband Nawaz, however, said he had donated his plasma to Dow University Karachi and was informed by the hospital that his plasma had been infused in a number of patients, of which one woman who had been on a ventilator was now recovering. 
Maheen Khan, a 75-year-old top Pakistani fashion designer, said her symptoms included fever, body pains and headache and she also lost her sense of taste and smell.
“I had read a lot about the virus, so I immediately tested myself and after testing positive, just quarantined myself at home for the next 21 days,” she said, adding that she opted for a “holistic approach” to recovery, staying away from all medication except pain killers and eating raw food like mango with yogurt, milk and honey, and taking lots of Vitamin C. She also tried to rest a lot and do breathing exercises. 
“Calm yourself first if hit by the virus, try your best to be cured at your will but if the symptoms still get worse, see a doctor,” Khan said. “At 75, I put myself on strict care as I was the most vulnerable.”


Pakistan to resume middle school classes tomorrow despite rising COVID-19 infections

Updated 22 September 2020

Pakistan to resume middle school classes tomorrow despite rising COVID-19 infections

  • Dozens of educational institutions around the country were closed this week over violation of virus standard operating proce­dures and detection of new cases
  • Earlier this month, government announced it would allow the “phased” reopening of all educational institutions from September 15

ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Tuesday said middle schools across the country would resume regular classes as scheduled from tomorrow, September 23, Radio Pakistan reported, despite coronavirus cases being detected in educational institutes around the country this past week.
Schools were closed in March when the government enforced a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus. Authorities started lifting strict curbs in May and last month allowed almost all businesses and the tourism sector to reopen.
Earlier this month, the Pakistani government announced it would be allowing the “phased” reopening of all educational institutions from September 15.
All higher educational institutions including universities, intermediate and professional colleges, reopened from September 15, while grades six through eighth grade were to reopen on September 23 and primary schools would resume classes from September 30.
Following the decision of the NCOC to resume middle school classes from Wednesday, Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa officially announced that classes would start tomorrow. However, Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani said schools in the province would reopen on September 28.
Dozens of educational institutions around the country were closed this week over violation of standard operating proce­dures (SOPs) and detection of Covid-19 cases among students, teachers and other staff.
But Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said on Saturday that a hasty decision to close down schools again would “destroy education.”
“6 months closure deeply affected the students. Decision to open was taken with great care,” he wrote on Twitter. ” Any hasty decision to close will destroy education.”

The education minister of Punjab province, Murad Raas, said on Twitter:
“All Public & Private Schools will be allowed classes 6 through 8 starting September 23rd. It is imperative for everyone to follow SOPs ... All of us have to play our part to make this successful InshAllah.”