MARDAN: Fear gripped the residents of Mardan when 39 people in the district tested positive for coronavirus in one go.

The newly-detected patients have contracted the disease from a person, who died last week, according to sources.

Early in the day, Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra tweeted: “Quick update of extended coronavirus test results in Manga union council Mardan where Pakistan’s first death was recorded and a lockdown was enacted. Sampling has shown that out of 46, 39 are positive. Four samples rejected. All tested were asymptomatic.”

The report caused fear among the people, who have been under lockdown for the last few days.

However, the daily situation report released by directorate-general health services didn’t mention the Mardan cases. It said that two new cases of coronavirus were reported.

First case confirmed in Swabi; three doctors quarantined in Abbottabad

The minister also said that further details were awaited and would be released as they came.

The report said that experts from Khyber Medical University visited Manga village, took 28 samples from quarantined individuals and 59 from those people, who lived nearby.

The province, the report said, recorded 694 suspected patients and results of 317 of them were awaited while 131 new cases were registered. However, it didn’t give any information about the Mardan cases because the department did not have the reports in black and white.

“We will include the same in tomorrow’s report when the documented evidence is available,” officials said.

The lockdown and security measures have been further tightened in Manga village and its sounding areas after confirmation of the cases. Police and army personnel visited the area and deployed a big contingent there with clear instruction of tight security.

In Swabi, the first case of coronavirus was confirmed on Wednesday.

The patient belongs to Bada village in Gadoon Amazai. He had returned from Saudi Arabia on March 17. He was admitted to the isolation ward at Chota Lahor civil hospital after showing symptoms of coronavirus and his sample was sent to National Institute of Health (NIH), Islamabad for test.

Deputy Commissioner Shahid Mehmood told journalist that the patient tested positive for coronavirus. “He has been under-treatment in Lahor hospital,” he added.

Sources in the district health department said that two more suspected patients were also been kept in Lahor hospital but results of their tests were still awaited.

They said that results of earlier tests of nine persons belonging to different areas of the district were negative. They added that the entire family of the confirmed patient was quarantined while his neighbours and relatives would have to go under immediate test to contain spread of the virus in the district.

In Mansehra, the district administration has shifted a coronavirus-affected woman from a completely locked down Ghazikot township to Islamabad in critical condition.

The woman, one of the three confirmed coronavirus cases of Mansehra, was quarantined at her residence in Ghazikot. Her son, an expatriate, had returned home from Brittan in mid March. The man had already been shifted to federal capital last week over deteriorating of his condition.

The district administration locked down Sector-D of Ghazikot the other day. The district administration has also quarantined two families on their return from Gilgit.

In Abbottabad, the health authorities quarantined three doctors in Jinnahabad locality and sent their samples to NIH for screening about coronavirus, according to sources.

They said that a bakery was also sealed from where the doctor had bought some items.

This scribe tried to contact the deputy commissioner and district police officer from confirmation but they did not attend the telephone calls while no one was available in the control room of police.

The doctor, a resident of Swat who lived in Abbottabad, had returned from the US a week ago. The health authorities traced him and quarantined him along with his two doctor friends. Police have cordoned off the street where he lives and restricted movement of people.

In Swat, DHO Ikram Shah has said that family members of the doctor, who tested positive for Covid-19 in Abbottabad, were quarantined in their village and their blood samples were sent to Peshawar for test.

“He is a doctor by profession so he kept himself in isolation in his house and neither met his family members, nor his friends or other people in his village. During his stay, he remained in self-quarantine with N-95 mask and gloves,” said Ikram Shah.

In Battagram, the administration has established a quarantine centre.

Deputy Commissioner Altaf Hussain said that they would establish three more quarantine centres in the district -- two in Battagram tehsil and one in Allai tehsil.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2020