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Sunday Jun 28 2020
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In Sindh, Karachi’s District East is the most coronavirus-affected area

People shop from stalls in a market, after Pakistan started easing the lockdown as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Karachi, Pakistan May 11, 2020. Photo: Reuters

KARACHI: Karachi’s District East has emerged as the most affected coronavirus affected area in Sindh, where around 15,669 people have tested positive for the virus, the highest number of cases in any district of Pakistan, reported The News.

“Not just in terms of cases but the District East of Karachi has recorded the highest number of deaths, which are 311, since the first death occurred due to COVID-19 on March 19, 2020, in Sindh. Nobody knows why the number of cases is so high in District East, which is equal to the combined number of COVID-19 cases of the Malir, Korangi and West districts of Karachi,” an official of the Sindh government told The News on Friday.

A city of 16,051,521 or 16 million as per the 2017 census, Karachi had recorded 55,459 cases of COVID-19, while around 1,000 people had lost their lives by June 26, the official said, adding that Karachi had emerged as the most affected city of the country.

“Twenty-five per cent of the recorded COVID-19 cases and deaths in Pakistan have been reported in Karachi. It is has emerged as the most affected city of Pakistan, where the number of cases on June 26, 2020, is 195,745 with 3,962 deaths, but District East has emerged as one of the most affected areas in the country. We are trying to find out as to why cases and deaths in this district are more than they are in three other districts -- West, Malir and Korangi -- which have a three times bigger population than that of District East.”

The official, who requested anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media, said that according to the 2017 census, the population of District East is 2,907,467 or 2.9 million people and it comprises areas like Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Jamshaid Road, Mehmoodabad, Bahadurabad, Hasan Square, Sachal and Safoora Goth and Abul Hasan Isphahani Road where relatively better off and educated people live.

“But when we see the statistics, District East has emerged as one of the most affected areas in terms of COVID-19 where not only the highest number of cases is detected every day, but the number of deaths is also the highest as compared to other districts of the province. During 24 hours between June 25 and 26, 2020, eight people lost their lives, which is the highest number of deaths in any district of the province,” the official added.

The District Central of Karachi is the second most affected district in Sindh in terms of deaths where 208 people have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since March 19, Sindh government officials said, adding that with almost the same population (2,971,626 or 2.9 million people) as of District East, District Central had 9,869 cases on the morning of June 26, but it had the second-highest number of deaths in Sindh.

“Although District Central has around 5,000 fewer cases as compared to District East, it has the second-highest number of deaths in the province. This district also comprises areas where the most educated class of Karachi lives while people in this district are also well off as compared to those in other areas of Karachi.”

The District South of Karachi, which comprises two richest and educated as well as poor and uneducated areas of Karachi, i.e. Defence and Clifton on one side and Lyari on the other, has emerged as the third most affected area, officials said, adding that so far 13,372 people had been found infected with COVID-19 and 181 people had lost their lives in various areas of the district.

With 128 deaths, the most populated district of Karachi, West, is the fourth most affected district in the Sindh province, officials said, adding that despite having a population of around 3.9 million, District West had only 5,434 cases of COVID-19 by June 26. “A less number of cases in the most populated district of Sindh could be due to the less number of tests conducted, but 128 deaths also indicate that it is not as much affected area as District East or District Central of Karachi,” the official said.

Having a population of over 2.4 million as per the 2017 census, the Korangi district is the fifth most affected area of Karachi where 93 people had lost their lives by June 26, officials said, adding that 5,059 people had been found infected with the coronavirus there.

The District Malir of Karachi, which comprises mostly rural areas and have less educated people in Karachi, is the least affected district in the city concerning COVID-19, officials said, adding that only 72 people had died due to the coronavirus infection in the district where 6,056 people had been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Commenting on the situation, an eminent infectious diseases expert of the country, Dr Faisal Mehmood, said that ideally, people of low socioeconomic status were more likely to contract infectious diseases as compared to those who belonged to well off segments of society, as they cared more about their health due to their level of awareness, education and better opportunities and resources they had to spend on their health.

“In the low socio-economic segment of society, people are less educated and their level of awareness is also low. They live in congested localities having more people in small houses, which is the case in our Katchi Abadis and poor areas. As they can’t enjoy the luxury of having their separate rooms, they are more likely to get affected as soon as the first member of their family is affected by COVID-19,” Dr Mehmood observed.

When asked why more cases were being reported from well off areas of the city as compared to poor localities, he said it could be due to a higher number of tests in those areas, saying that perhaps people in the middle and higher-income groups were more conscious about their health as compared to people from the low socio-economic group.

But other experts observed that there was a serious need to study the spread of COVID-19 in Karachi where some areas were affected more as compared to others, saying this could help in containing the spread of the virus soon.

Originally published in The News