LAHORE: The number of confirmed patients of coronavirus may increase substantially in Punjab as some 780 suspected patients have been kept in quarantine at a university in Dera Ghazi Khan and most of them show typical symptoms of the disease.
The apprehension was shared with Dawn by an official privy to the latest situation in Punjab.
He said these suspected patients (all of them pilgrims returning from Iran), including women, had entered Pakistan from Iran through Taftan border with history of flu, fever and cough.
They were shifted to DG Khan two days back where a university had been converted into a quarantine facility, the official added.
He said a high-alert caution had been issued in DG Khan, while several health department teams were dispatched to the southern city to isolate the patients.
According to the official, the Iranian authorities had kept all these suspected virus carriers on the same premises in sheer violation of the criteria of the World Health Organization (WHO), exposing them to greater risk of contacting the virus.
Quoting some of the patients, he said they had been shaking hands, hugging each other and even sharing towels and kitchen items during their stay in Iran despite the fact that some of them were having strong symptoms of coronavirus.
These 780 suspected patients belonged to various cities of Punjab, he said, adding that the health teams obtained samples of 50 of them and sent these to the National Institute of Health (NIH), Islamabad, for analysis.
Quoting the doctors handling them, he said there was a high probability that most of them might test positive for the virus.
The health teams would send samples of others in batches to the NIH and the entire diagnostic process would complete within 24 hours, the official added.
DERA GHAZI KHAN: Five of the pilgrims who arrived from Iran at a quarantine established 20km away from city have been referred to the Indus Hospital, Muzafargarh, a designated facility for coronavirus patients in south Punjab.
Dera Commissioner Naseem Sadiq said the suspected patients hailed from south Punjab. He said at least three tests of every quarantined pilgrim would be conducted during different days .
MULTAN: On the direction of DC Aamer Khattak, a crackdown has been launched against people violating the section 144.
An FIR has been lodged against a groom whose Valima ceremony was held in V Block of New Multan Colony.
The FIR has also been lodged against the owner of a catering service. District focal person on coronavirus additional deputy commissioner revenue Muhammad Tayyab Khan says holding of marriage ceremonies is allowed only within the premises of residences.
He said all the 128 marriage halls of the district had been closed while a control room had been established in the DC office where people could inform the admin about any patient at 0614500963.
Tariq Birmani and Shakeel Ahmad also contributed to this report.
Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2020