Tally of Pakistan's virus cases crosses 1,000 mark with eighth death

Updated March 26, 2020

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HANGU: The owner of a medical store marks spaces outside his outlet for customers to ensure social distancing, a key part of measures against the spread of coronavirus.—Dawn
HANGU: The owner of a medical store marks spaces outside his outlet for customers to ensure social distancing, a key part of measures against the spread of coronavirus.—Dawn

• Islamabad locality, two villages in GB sealed
• China donates face masks, PPE
• Woman dies in Rawalpindi on return from UK

ISLAMABAD: While tally for the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) cases entered four digits with eight fatalities on Wednesday, the country witnessed a lockdown which hampered public movement, businesses and daily life activities.

In the federal capital, the Bhara Kahu area, from where six cases were reported in members of Tablighi Jamaat, has been sealed to avoid further spread of the deadly virus.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said at a press conference that an aeroplane had brought 500,000 N-95 face masks from China and another two planes would bring personal protective equipment (PPE) weighing 12 tonnes on Friday.

While sharing the data of victims, he said: “Five patients are in critical condition and 21 have fully recovered.”

Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority Lt Gen Mohammad Afzal, while briefing the parliamentary leaders, said on March 13 there were 2,200 ventilators in Pakistan and 40 of them were out of order.

“We did not have sufficient PPEs but now things are improving. Next month we will get 2,000 ventilators and we are aiming to have 10,000 ventilators in Pakistan in future. Moreover our target is to have 1.5 million testing kits of Covid-19. The NDMA has received Rs5 billion and opened an office of the purchase committee in Pakistan Embassy in China as we have decided to rely on China for equipment due to unavailability in West,” he said.

He said a scanner for coronavirus had been arranged from China. “The scanner is so huge that we may have to bring it in two or three aeroplanes or maybe through Khunjerab Pass,” he said.

Meanwhile, a 50-year-old woman, who was suffering from Covid-19, died in Rawalpindi on Wednesday. She was a British national of Pakistani origin, belonging to Sohawa tehsil. She had returned from the UK about two weeks ago and was admitted to Rawalpindi hospital where she died.

According to the police sources, she had visited her ancestral village Mohrah Akra near Sohawa town on March 19, where she had complained of deterioration of health. She was shifted to Rawalpindi hospital where it was confirmed that she had been infected with the virus.

The deceased was buried in her ancestral graveyard in Mohrah Akra village and police and health authorities sorted out over a dozen relatives of the victim, including her husband, son and other family members whom she had met before being hospitalised and who had attended her funeral. These people were shifted to the district government’s isolation centre near Missa Kaswal where they would be tested for the virus.

Spokesperson of the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) Sajid Shah, while talking to Dawn, said that the woman had arrived from the UK on March 9 and was included as the eighth member in list of casualties due to Covid-19.

In Attock, the health authorities and local administration confirmed the first Covid-19 case of the area.

Moreover, three new cases were reported in Gilgit Baltistan, raising tally in the region to 84. Two villages in Nagar district have been sealed after identification of over 14 locally transmitted coronavirus patients in the villages.

Sindh gets 500,000 face masks from China

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah received 500,000 face masks, including 50,000 N-95 masks, donated to the provincial government by China.

Moreover the CM approved the purchase of 290 ventilators, 3.2m PPE, 100 rapid kit antigen test machines, 100,000 testing kits, 50 RT lamp testing machines and 10,000 RT lamp kits and 29 portable X-ray machines so that testing capacity in the province could be enhanced.

Hamid Asghar from Gujar Khan, Jamil Nagri from Gilgit and Tahir Siddiqui from Karachi also contributed to this story

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2020