Smog-hit Lahore — 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”.
Renowned pulmonologist Dr Irfan Malik told Geo News that the new virus’s symptoms include high fever, body pain, cough, and stomach-related issues.
He maintained that the disease can be passed from one person to another.
Around 30 to 40 patients of the “virus” were visiting the hospitals on a daily basis in the city, the doctor said, adding that children and elderly people were the worst affected by the disease.
The “virus” has not claimed any life so far in the provincial capital of Punjab.
Caretaker Punjab Health Minister Dr Javed Akram hinted that the new virus could be “COVID-19”, adding: “People are not getting themselves tested for COVID.”
“Currently, various types of viruses are affecting the health of citizens,” he added.
It is pertinent to mention here that air pollution has worsened in Pakistan in recent years, as a mixture of low-grade diesel fumes, smoke from seasonal crop burn, and colder winter temperatures coalesce into stagnant clouds of smog.
Lahore suffers the most from the toxic smog, choking the lungs of more than 11 million residents in Lahore during the winter season.
Levels of PM2.5 pollutants — 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 danger limits.
Breathing the poisonous air has catastrophic health consequences.
Prolonged exposure can trigger strokes, heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory diseases, according to the WHO.
With little or no success, successive governments have used various methods to reduce air pollution in Lahore, including artificial rain, spraying water on the roads, and weekend shutdowns of schools, factories, and markets.