A major rise expected in COVID-19 cases due to Eid travel, Sindh Health Minister

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KARACHI: Like last year, Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho expects the rate of coronavirus cases to increase post-Eid holidays. Last year, the infection rate rose by threefold after Eid. Dr Pechuho was attending a National Command and Operation Centre meeting to review coronavirus restrictions via zoom link. Health Secretary Dr Kazim Jatoi and Deputy Secretary Dr Mansoor Wassan were also present. The Sindh health minister gave an update on the coronavirus infection patterns from last year. She said expects that last year’s pattern will hold this year as well. the baseline, however, is much higher this time around and so the numbers will be significantly larger. “Due to people travelling back and forth for Eid Holidays, the risk of spreading infections is already considerable and we will see COVID positive cases rising,” Dr Pechuho said. She spoke about relaxing coronavirus standard operating procedures. She said allowing 70% occupancy in railway carriages should be reconsidered and that Sindh would urge railway operations to be curtailed for at least the next seven to 10 days and the situation will be reviewed again. Over 25 coronavirus positive cases have been confirmed through air travel, she said, adding that the Sindh health department will be conducting genomic sequence studies on the samples found to determine which variants are found. “International travel is exacerbating the rise and spread of infections and we have to be more stringent at airports with rapid antigen testing as well as PCR,” she emphasised. International travellers may not exhibit symptoms till a week to 10 days after landing and would be spreading the virus within their communities as quarantine on international travellers is not being implemented, she highlighted. The Sindh health minister expressed the belief that non-pharmaceutical interventions should be maintained and not doing so will make things worse.

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