HealthPakistan

Lahore Choked by Smog and New Virus Outbreak

Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab, is facing a dual threat of smog and a mystery virus that has affected hundreds of people in the city.

The city, which has been among the top most polluted cities in the world during the past few months, is now grappling with an outbreak of a new virus that has symptoms similar to COVID-19.

According to Dr Irfan Malik, a renowned pulmonologist, the new virus causes high fever, body pain, cough, and stomach-related issues. He said that the virus can be transmitted from one person to another and that children and elderly people are the most vulnerable.

“Every day, we are seeing 30 to 40 patients of this virus in the hospitals. It has not caused any death so far, but it is very serious and needs to be investigated,” he added.

Dr Javed Akram, the caretaker Punjab health minister, said that the new virus could be a variant of COVID-19, but he admitted that there was a lack of testing and data to confirm this.

“People are not getting themselves tested for COVID. They are afraid of the stigma and the isolation. They are also not following the SOPs (standard operating procedures) such as wearing masks and social distancing. This is very dangerous and irresponsible,” he said.

He added that there were various types of viruses circulating in the city due to the poor air quality and the changing weather.

Lahore suffers the most from the toxic smog, which is a mixture of low-grade diesel fumes, smoke from seasonal crop burning, and colder winter temperatures. The smog forms a stagnant cloud over the city, reducing visibility and causing respiratory problems.

The levels of PM2.5 pollutants, which are cancer-causing microparticles that enter the bloodstream through the lungs, were measured as hazardous in Lahore today, more than 64 times the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) danger limits.

The WHO says that prolonged exposure to such high levels of air pollution can trigger strokes, heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory diseases.

Despite the alarming situation, the government has failed to take effective measures to reduce air pollution in Lahore. The previous attempts, such as artificial rain, spraying water on the roads, and weekend shutdowns of schools, factories, and markets, have had little or no impact.

The citizens of Lahore have expressed their frustration and anger over the government’s inaction and negligence. They have demanded immediate action to improve the air quality and to contain the spread of the new virus.

“We are living in a hell. We can’t breathe, we can’t see, we can’t go out. We are afraid of getting sick. We don’t know what is happening to us. The government is doing nothing to help us. They are playing with our lives,” said Ali, a resident of Lahore.

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