Seven suspected coronavirus patients admitted to BBH

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Buyers stay away from the weekly bazaar on Friday as a precaution against the coronavirus. — APP
Buyers stay away from the weekly bazaar on Friday as a precaution against the coronavirus. — APP

ISLAMABAD: While 34 suspected coronavirus patients are admitted to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), seven suspected cases reported to Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) on Friday.

The samples of the suspected patients were sent to the National Institute of Health (NIH).

After one of its staff members along with his brother tested positive for the virus, the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) on Friday activated its directorates of health services, Cares 1122 and emergency and disaster management to deal with any emergency.

“Unfortunately, our ambulance driver and his brother have tested positive for the virus,” Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz told Dawn.

He said the ambulance had been sealed while other eight employees serving duty in the ambulance had been referred to Pims.

A 42-year-old man was shifted from BBH to the Rawalpindi Institute of Urology (RIU) after he tested positive for the virus on Friday.

Out of the seven suspects brought to BBH, three were from Rawalpindi and four from Buner.

“Their samples have been sent to NIH and the reports are awaited,” a senior official told Dawn.

Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar also confirmed the coronavirus patient in Rawalpindi.

In a tweet, he said: “I can confirm that there are currently 96 patients of COVID-19 positive cases in Punjab. Out of which 71 are Zaireen, 15 in Lahore, two in Multan, three in Muzaffargarh, three in Gujrat and one each is in Rawalpindi and Jhelum.”

Meanwhile, the MCI issued a directive that Director General Health Dr Hassan Urooj would head the emergency arrangements and would be authorised to pass orders for any assistance and facilitation until COVID-19 related emergency is intact.

The directorate of health secretariat has been directed to nominate a focal person.

“A daily chart of coordination and liaison with regards to COVID-19 (assistance and support) would be generated, specifying details of the events.

“UAN numbers such as 1122, 16, 1334 shall be responded positively and any emergency pertaining COVID 19 shall be cautiously dealt as a top priority,” read a notification.

It was also decided that the emergency staff would not be allowed any leave unless there was extraordinary circumstances.

According to officials, there are a total of 15 suspected cases in Rawalpindi out of whom seven were still admitted and the others declared negative.

Talking to Dawn, Commissioner retired Capt Mohammad Mehmood said all necessary equipment had been provided to the High Dependency Units at BBH and the RIU.

He said personal protection equipment (PPE) had been provided to doctors and the paramedical staff. Ventilators and single beds facilities for quarantine have also been arranged.

The Rawalpindi district administration on Friday directed to close all bazaars and shopping malls by 10pm except medical and general stores. Soon after receiving the directives, traders’ associations in the city and cantonment areas started implemented it.

Deputy Commissioner retired Capt Anwarul Haq directed the administration to close down all public parks and recreational sites till further orders.

The district administration also decided to convert educational institutions into quarantine. It said 80 rooms at Rawalpindi Women University at 6th Road, 46 rooms at Government Asghar Mall Postgraduate College, 28 rooms at Government Postgraduate College Satellite Town, 25 rooms at Viqarun Nisa College and 90 rooms at Government Gordon College would be used for quarantining patients.

200 Chinese workers arrive

A special flight carrying 200 Chinese engineers and other professionals working on different development projects in Pakistan arrived in Islamabad on Friday.

According to immigration sources, the Chinese experts were scanned by Pakistani as well as Chinese medical experts at the airport.

These Chinese experts had gone to their home country for spring festivals but remained stuck there due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

As a precautionary measure, the Chinese nationals will be kept in privately-managed isolation centres for two weeks in Islamabad before being sent to their workplaces in different areas.

China has successfully managed to contain the outbreak of the virus.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2020