Saudi envoy visits flood-ravaged area in Azad Kashmir

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Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, the ambassador of Saudi Arabia in Pakistan, visited Neelum Valley in Azad Kashmir to review the on-ground situation after devastating floods in the area on July 20, 2019 (Photo Courtesy: Saudi Embassy)
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Pakistan’s military officers and local authorities briefed Saudi ambassador, Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, on the situation and made assessments on damages on July 20, 2019 (Photo Courtesy: Saudi Embassy)
Updated 21 July 2019

Saudi envoy visits flood-ravaged area in Azad Kashmir

  • Team from King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center accompanied Saudi envoy
  • Last week, heavy rains and flash floods killed at least 22 in Neelum Valley, a tourist hotspot

ISLAMABAD: Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Islamabad paid a visit to Pakistan’s Neelam Valley, the Saudi Embassy said on Saturday, after devastating flash floods in the northernmost region of Azad Kashmir killed dozens last week. 
The ambassador was accompanied by a team from King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) and discussed on-ground humanitarian requirements after reviewing severe damage and loss of life caused by the heavy monsoon rains. At least 22 people have reportedly died in the floods.
Pakistan’s military officers as well as local authorities briefed the envoy about assessments on damages.
Ahmed Raza Qadri, Minister for State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) told Arab News that flash floods
caused by a heavy cloudburst adversely impacted Leswa Village in the Neelum Valley on July 15, with more than 150 houses, shops and mosques impacted in the area.
Rescue teams comprising officials of district administration, disaster management authority and local police are conducting search and rescue operations in the area, Qadri added. 
According to the National Disaster Management Authority, (NDMA) the army is assisting the local administration in the rescue and recovery mission. Last week, the military’s media wing reported that 52 residents had been rescued. 
Neelam Valley is a popular tourist destination located near the Line of Control (LoC) — the de facto border that splits Kashmir between Pakistan and India.


Pakistan Medical Association, doctors fear coronavirus surge as lockdowns lifted nationwide

Updated 09 August 2020

Pakistan Medical Association, doctors fear coronavirus surge as lockdowns lifted nationwide

  • Islamabad’s PIMS hospital had less than 10 coronavirus patients before Eid Al-Adha but new patients coming in since
  • Pakistan announced on Thursday it was opening virtually all sectors closed down in March to stem the spread of COVID-19

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and infectious disease experts on Thursday warned of a possible surge in coronavirus cases due to a premature lifting of restrictions, as the government announced a day earlier that it was opening virtually all sectors closed down in March to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Pakistan shut schools and land borders nearly five months ago, decided to limit domestic and international flights and discouraged large gatherings to try to halt the spread of the coronavirus. But with infections and deaths down nearly 80 percent since their peak as per government records, the government decided on Thursday to lift the lockdowns to help the country return to normalcy.
Pakistan celebrated the Eid Al-Adha religious holiday last week. After the last major Islamic festival, of Eid Al-Fitr, in May, infections rose to their peak in Pakistan.
Dr. Nasim Akhtar, head of infectious diseases at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) in Islamabad, told Arab News the coronavirus ward at her hospital only had five to six patients before Eid, but new patients had once again started coming in.
“Cases registered a sharp increase after Eid Al-Fitr, and this can happen now again with the lifting of the lockdowns,” she said, adding that the government should have waited at least two more weeks to reopen restaurants and other public places.
“This is a bit early, and may worsen the situation again,” Akhtar said.
The World Health Organization has said “extreme vigilance” was needed as countries begin to exit from lockdowns, amid global concerns about a second wave of infections.
Germany earlier reported an acceleration in new coronavirus infections after it took early steps to ease its lockdown. South Korea, another country that had succeeded in limiting virus infections, saw a new outbreak.
“The next week is crucial to see if the infections soar as just one week has passed now since the Eid holidays,” Dr. Qaiser Sajjad, secretary-general of the Pakistan Medical Association, told Arab News.

 

 

Cases could also surge during the Islamic month of Muharram, which begins in late August, he said, and due to independence day celebrations on August 14. Huge crowds come out all over the world, including in Muslim-majority Pakistan, to commemorate the slaying of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh).
“We think that the opening of all these things in a hurry ... probably this will create problems for us,” Sajjad said.
He said infections had risen sharply in the United States and Brazil after the nations lifted restrictions when cases initially declined. Spain reported 1,772 new coronavirus infections on Aug 6, marking the biggest jump since a national lockdown was lifted in June.
University of Health Sciences vice chancellor Javed Akram, however, called the reopening of public places a “wise decision.”
“The government cannot keep the cities and businesses under lockdown forever,” he said. “People should follow health guidelines to fight the virus.”