Medical university in Pakistan says Karachi’s ‘mysterious’ pathogen was dengue virus

A mother takes care of her son who is suffering from dengue fever in a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan, on November 22, 2021. (AP)
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Updated 25 November 2021

Medical university in Pakistan says Karachi’s ‘mysterious’ pathogen was dengue virus

  • The city’s leading pathologists said earlier this month many patients with dengue symptoms were testing negative for the disease
  • The Pakistan Medical Association says the university’s finding calls into question the quality of test kits available in Karachi

KARACHI: A Pakistani medical university on Thursday shared its research findings into Karachi’s “mysterious” pathogen, saying it was dengue virus that was not detected due to the timing of the test.

Leading doctors and pathologists in the country’s southern port city told Arab News earlier this month they had seen several patients who displayed dengue symptoms but tested negative for the mosquito-borne infection.

The news also prompted the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) to demand modern virology labs in the country to analyze new viruses.

“We did high quality sequencing of the cases which tested negative even after conducting various tests,” Dr. Saeed Khan, head of molecular pathology at the Dow University of Health Sciences, told Arab News. “Our research showed these were dengue cases that could not be detected.”

“The samples were also sent to the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Islamabad which confirmed it was not a new virus and that the patients were indeed suffering from dengue,” he continued.

Khan said dengue viruses did not mutate like the coronavirus, adding it was not a new variant.

“Although there is no need to panic since this is not a new or a mysterious virus, yet people must exercise caution since dengue itself is a dangerous disease,” he said.

Speaking to Arab News, PMA secretary general Dr. Qaisar Sajjad said he was not sure about the authenticity of the university’s research, though he maintained it would call into question the quality of test kits used in Karachi if the finding was accurate.

“We don’t know how the research was conducted,” he said. “But if it is true that the mysterious virus was the virus causing dengue, it will raise questions about the quality of our diagnostic procedure, quality of kits and also strengthen our demand that modern virology labs must be established in all provinces of Pakistan.”

“We don’t know why there were so many false negative cases and how the timing of the test can affect the results,” he added.


‘Impossible’ to stop Omicron variant from entering Pakistan, vaccination only solution - planning minister 

Updated 29 November 2021

‘Impossible’ to stop Omicron variant from entering Pakistan, vaccination only solution - planning minister 

  • Pakistan to increase testing in high risk areas, launch booster shot program for high-risk segments of population
  • Detection of Omicron has triggered global alarm as governments world over scrambled to impose new travel curbs

ISLAMABAD: Planning Minister Asad Umar, who also heads the national pandemic response body, the NCOC, said on Monday it was “impossible” for Pakistan to block the Omicron coronavirus variant from entering the country and the only protection against it was to increase vaccinations.
The detection of Omicron has triggered global alarm as governments around the world scrambled to impose new travel curbs and financial markets sold-off, fearing the variant could resist vaccinations and upend a nascent economic reopening after a two-year global pandemic.
In its statement, the WHO said it was working with technical experts to understand the potential impact of the variant on existing countermeasures against COVID-19, including vaccines.
Addressing a press conference alongside Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Dr Faisal Sultan, Umar stressed the need for citizens to get vaccinated, saying the government would take new measures to protect against the Omicron variant. These include increased testing in high risk areas, and the launch of a booster shot program for high-risk segments of the population such as the elderly and the immunocompromised.
On Saturday, Pakistan banned travel from six South African countries and Hong Kong following the emergence of the new coronavirus variant.
“We can take measures to delay the entry into Pakistan of this variant, we can reduce its numbers, but it will spread all around the world,” Umar said. “As we saw before, once a new variant comes, the world is so interconnected, there is so much travel, that it is impossible to stop it. So what is the solution, what is in our hands? The answer is vaccination.”
“This is a very dangerous variant but vaccination will still be effective against it,” the minister said. "So it is my appeal to Pakistanis, particularly those who've gotten one dose, to get the second dose.”
"This variant will come to Pakistan, and we have the next 2-3 weeks to reduce its threat,” Umar added.
The Omicron variant spread around the world last week, with new cases found in the Netherlands, Denmark and Australia even as more countries imposed travel restrictions to try to seal themselves off.
WHO has said it was not yet clear whether Omicron, first detected in Southern Africa, is more transmissible than other variants, or if it causes more severe disease.


First ever Pakistani meat consignment exported to Jordan - commerce advisor

Updated 46 min 58 sec ago

First ever Pakistani meat consignment exported to Jordan - commerce advisor

  • Last month, Pakistan announced that Jordan had allowed three Pakistani producers to export meat to the kingdom
  • The companies are the Organic Meat Company Limited (TOMCL), Tata Best Food Limited, Tazji Meat and Food

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani commerce advisor Abdul Razak Dawood said on Monday Pakistan’s Tata Best Food Limited had exported the country’s first meat consignment to Jordan.
Last month, Pakistan announced that Jordan had allowed three Pakistani producers to export meat to the kingdom. These are Organic Meat Company Limited (TOMCL), Tata Best Food Limited, Tazji Meat and Food.
Pakistan ranks in the top 20 among global halal meat exporting nations, and a 2017 study by the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) showed that the industry was growing by 27 percent annually.
The country’s exports of meat and meat preparations went up by 10 percent in the last fiscal year to $334 million, though they declined by four percent during the first two months of the current fiscal year to $49.55 million, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.
“We congratulate TATA Foods on exporting Pakistan's first ever consignment meat has been exported to Jordan,” Dawood said on Twitter. “Promotion & facilitation of non-traditional products to new markets constitutes MOC’s [ministry of commerce] diversification policy.”


Last year, TOMCL became the first Pakistani company to get approval from the Saudi Food & Drug Authority to export frozen meat via sea to the kingdom, as it won a high-value contract of $3.9 million to export 100 metric tons of frozen boneless meat to Saudi Arabia.
In September, the Karachi-based halal meat processing and export enterprise secured a $1 million contract to supply frozen boneless meat to Saudi Arabia for a period of 10 months.

 


Openers put Pakistan in sight of victory in Bangladesh

Updated 2 min 37 sec ago

Openers put Pakistan in sight of victory in Bangladesh

  • Pakistan reached 109-0 at stumps and need only 93 runs on the final day on Tuesday
  • Bangladesh have failed to defeat Pakistan in any of their 10 previous encounters

CHITTAGONG: Openers Abid Ali and Abdullah Shafique each hit an unbeaten fifty to put Pakistan in a commanding position in the first Test against Bangladesh in Chittagong on Monday.
Set a target of 202, the visitors reached 109-0 at stumps and need only 93 runs on the final day on Tuesday.
Ali was batting on 56 at the end of the day’s play, adding to his first-innings score of 133, while debutant Shafique was unbeaten on 53.
Fast bowler Shaheen Afridi earlier claimed 5-32 to help Pakistan bowl out Bangladesh for 157 runs in their second innings despite wicketkeeper-batsman Liton Das making a fighting fifty.
Resuming on 39-4, Bangladesh looked down and out once they lost Mushfiqur Rahim in the first over of the day, before Liton, who struck a hundred in the first innings, hauled the hosts back to respectability with 59 off 89 balls.
Afridi trapped Liton leg-before and then had Abu Jayed out for a duck to complete his fourth five-wicket Test haul.
Off-spinner Sajid Khan, who finished with 3-33, wrapped things up by dispatching Taijul Islam.
The hosts had got off to a positive start with Mushfiqur hitting a boundary off the first ball of the morning, bowled by Hasan Ali.
But two balls later he left a wrong delivery and departed for 16 after Hasan struck off-stump.
Liton joined overnight batsman Yasir Ali to prevent further collapse.
Just when they looked ready to prosper, Afridi’s low bounce hit the helmet of Yasir, who retired hurt after making 36.
Liton survived on 26 when he was given out, caught at short leg off Sajid Khan.
The replay showed that the ball only hit his pad and was going down the leg.
Sajid was rewarded for his persistence as he trapped Mehidy Hasan leg-before for 11.
Substitute Nurul Hasan replaced Yasir after Mehidy’s dismissal and barely survived a strong caught-behind appeal just before lunch.
Nurul heaved one at long-on to Faheem Ashraf off Sajid after the break, getting dismissed for 15, and Pakistan took little time to take the remaining wickets.
Bangladesh have failed to defeat Pakistan in any of their 10 previous encounters. 


New coronavirus cases fall to 1.5 year low in Pakistan 

Updated 29 November 2021

New coronavirus cases fall to 1.5 year low in Pakistan 

  • 176 new infections and nine deaths recorded in the last 24 hours according to government data
  • Country last saw daily case count lower than 176 on April 5 when Pakistan recorded 172 cases

ISLAMABAD: Coronavirus cases in Pakistan fell to a 1.5 year low on Monday, with only 176 new infections recorded in the last 24 hours.
Pakistan, a country of over 220 million people, has so far reported 1,284,365 total infections and less than 30,000 deaths.
According to Pakistan’s federal coronavirus response body, the NCOC, nine people died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, and the positivity ratio has fallen to 0.59 percent.


The country last saw a daily case count lower than 176 on April 5 when 172 cases were recorded.
Pakistan is reporting 331 new infections on average each day, 6 percent of the peak — the highest daily average reported on June 17.
Pakistan has administered at least 122,319,215 doses of COVID vaccines so far. Assuming every person needs 2 doses, this is enough to have vaccinated about 28.2 percent of the country’s population.

 


Pakistan says hopes to keep educational institutes open amid new Omicron variant

Updated 29 November 2021

Pakistan says hopes to keep educational institutes open amid new Omicron variant

  • Detection of Omicron has triggered global alarm as governments around the world scramble to impose new travel curbs 
  • Growing fears the variant could resist vaccinations and upend a nascent economic reopening after a two-year global pandemic

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood said on Monday the Pakistan government wanted to continue education activities and keep schools and colleges open amid reports of a new COVID-19 variant named Omicron.
The Omicron variant spread around the world on Sunday, with new cases found in the Netherlands, Denmark and Australia even as more countries imposed travel restrictions to try to seal themselves off.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said it was not yet clear whether Omicron, first detected in Southern Africa, is more transmissible than other variants, or if it causes more severe disease.
Speaking to the media in Lahore, Mahmood said he was not aware of the details about the new strain but “there should not be any disruption in education.”
“Examinations would be held on time and with complete syllabus as decided by the education ministers,” The News quoted Mahmood as saying.
Pakistan resumed regular classes at all educational institutes around the country last month.
On Saturday, Pakistan banned travel from six South African countries and Hong Kong following the emergence of the new coronavirus variant.
“Based on the emergence of the new covid variant, notification has been issued to restrict travel from 6 south African countries and Hong Kong,” Minister for Planning, Development Asad Umar had announced on Twitter. “The emergence of new variant makes it even more urgent to vaccinate all eligible citizens 12 years and older.”


The WHO has said preliminary data suggested that there were increasing rates of hospitalization in South Africa, “but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection.”
It said understanding the level of severity of Omicron “will take days to several weeks.”
The detection of Omicron has triggered global alarm as governments around the world scrambled to impose new travel curbs and financial markets sold-off, fearing the variant could resist vaccinations and upend a nascent economic reopening after a two-year global pandemic.
In its statement, the WHO said it was working with technical experts to understand the potential impact of the variant on existing countermeasures against COVID-19, including vaccines.