PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa confirmed 15 cases of coronavirus disease in a single day on Monday for the first time since the emergence of the infection in the country.
Those tested positive for the virus arrived in Dera Ismail Khan on Sunday night where they were put in quarantine in Dar Zinda Type D Hospital. Authorities are hiring buildings in Dera Ismail Khan to quarantine more pilgrims arriving from Iran in the next few days.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Taimur Salim Jhagra tweed: “Just received news that 15 of 19 individuals received in KP from Taftan have tested positive for Coronavirus. These are the first positive cases in KP. They are being well looked after in quarantine in an isolated facility in DI Khan. More details soon.”
Mr Jhagra also talked about the rumours regarding passing away of a patient from COVID 2019 in Hayatabad Medical Complex on Monday, saying he was a suspected case and was dealt with as per protocol. “His test results are awaited,” he explained.
All 15 patients arriving from Iran have been put in quarantine in DI Khan
The samples of 15 people were confirmed positive early on Monday, prompting the authorities to look for buildings to effectively quarantine the infected people as well as others coming from Iran.
Chief Secretary Dr Kazim Niaz directed health department to hire hostels and buildings to isolate more pilgrims coming from Iran as the existing facility was for 34 people.
Sources said that about 250 pilgrims would return from Iran in the next few days. They had been quarantined in Taftan, Pak-Iran border, but there were issues due to which it was decided to isolate them for fortnight in Dear Ismail Khan and test them against after 14 days prior to allowing them to go home.
“We are trying to provide single room to one pilgrim or two as best quarantine practices to ensure interruption of circulation of the virus which has less mortality but spread very fast,” said sources. A Levies training centre in Sha Kas area of Khyber tribal district will be converted into a 150-bed isolation ward to deal with suspected people sent from Pak-Afghan border, Torkham.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Public Health Reference Laboratory is taking samples of COVID suspected people but those could be sent only through health department only, officials said.
They said that health department had made elaborate arrangements to deal with COVID 2019 cases as beds had been reserved in all district headquarters hospitals. “We are also focusing on the areas from where pilgrims visit Iran, which has recorded most deaths from the virus after Italy and China,” said officials.
So far Pakistan has tested 132 cases in total, including 103 from Sindh, 15 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, seven from Balochistan, four from Islamabad and three from Gilgit-Baltistan. Three patients, including two in Karachi and one in Islamabad, have been discharged after recovery.
A delegation of World Health Organisation will visit Peshawar on Tuesday to take stock of the situation with regarding to preparedness level of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to deal with COVID 2019 in case of outbreak and ascertain the gaps needed to be filled to effectively handle the pandemic.
“The visit is part of the preparations for the visit by WHO Mission which is scheduled for all provinces on March 19,” said officials. Authorities at Lady Reading Hospital, Khyber Teaching Hospital and Services Hospital will brief the WHO panel regarding the availability of services required by the critically-ill people and the requirements to strengthen facilities.
Our correspondent from Charsadda adds: The first suspected case of coronavirus reported from Shahqadar where the patient was admitted to isolation centre at district headquarters hospital Charsadda and samples were sent to laboratory for test.
Dr Mohammad Idrees, the district health officer, told journalists that the 20-year-old suspected patient was brought to district headquarters hospital with symptoms of coronavirus. The doctors admitted him to isolation ward and sent his samples to laboratory for test.
The DHO said that the suspected patient arrived in his native town Gundah, Shabqadar from Saudi Arabia on March 5.
Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2020