Friday Oct 16 2020

Pakistan reports first death from coronavirus re-infection

Rashid Rabbani had remained asymptomatic and recovered within a week when he was tested positive for the first time. Photo: File

KARACHI: PPP leader Rashid Rabbani became the first Pakistani to die due to “COVID-19 re-infection” after suffering from complications while being treated at a private hospital in the city, reported The News.

“Rashid Rabbani, 68, had been brought to the Ziauddin Hospital with COVID-19 re-infection last week and his condition was very serious. He had to be shifted to the ventilator but unfortunately, his condition continued to deteriorate and he passed away today evening,” Dr Asim Hussain, Chairman of the Dr Ziauddin Hospitals, told The News on Thursday.

Meanwhile, several cases of coronavirus re-infection have also been reported in multiple health facilities, including the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) and Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS). However, none of them has reported a death yet.

Dr Asim Hussain said that Rashid Rabbani had recovered from the coronavirus in May. He also explained that he was asymptomatic despite testing COVID-19 positive through PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test.

He warned that coronavirus cases were rising gradually in the country, especially in Karachi. He also claimed that the cases were “very serious and complicated”, with most of them requiring intensive care and even ventilator support.

Also read: Senior PPP leader Rashid Rabbani passes away in Karachi

While Waqar Mehdi, a senior PPP leader and close friend of Rashid Rabbani, also confirmed that Rabbani was diagnosed positive for the coronavirus back in May after being tested from a private hospital. He also said that Rabbani remained asymptomatic and recovered within a week.

“In May this year, Rashid Rabbani got himself tested from AKUH lab and the report said he had contracted the disease. He remained asymptomatic or had mild symptoms and after six or seven days, he got himself tested again and he was declared PCR negative by the same lab”, Mehdi told The News.

Mehdi claimed that doctors had advised Rashid Rabbani to continue taking precautionary measures and follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as the coronavirus antibodies were not detected in his blood.

“Last week Rashid got sick again and when his condition deteriorated and he started gasping, he was taken to the Ziauddin Hospital in North Nazimabad, where he was tested COVID-19 positive again. This time his lungs were badly damaged due to re-infection and after remaining at least six days on ventilator, he passed away today”, Mehdi said, adding that he has survived by his widow and a daughter.

Re-infection 'very much possible' 

Eminent infectious diseases specialist at AKUH and a member of COVID-19 Taskforce of Sindh Dr Faisal Mahmood told The News that re-infection with COVID-19 was very much possible and now they had started receiving patients with COVID-19 infections too at the AKUH but added that they don’t know the “severity of the re-infection”.

“Re-infection with coronavirus is very much possible and now COVID-19 re-infections are being reported from all over the world. We are also having such cases at AKUH,” said Dr Faisal Mahmood. He also explained that having antibodies does not guarantee that the person would not get the infection again.

Meanwhile, a senior official at the Dow University hospital in Karachi said he had personally seen three to four cases of coronavirus re-infection at the facility, saying the patients were admitted with severe symptoms.

Also read: Five CM House staffers including Murad Ali Shah's assistant test positive for COVID-19

Dr Saeed Khan, an associate professor and head of molecular pathology at the Dow varsity, while talking to The News, claimed that cases of re-infection were being reported worldwide, and now doctors dealing with coronavirus cases in Karachi were also witnessing such cases.

“Re-infection is not a very widespread phenomenon here in Karachi, but doctors at different hospitals in the city are seeing one or two patients with COVID-19 re-infection. We have not seen any death after re-infection, but some patients have been observed with severe symptoms, who require admission and even life-support after getting re-infected,” said Dr Khan.