3 Pakistanis in US among Covid-19 fatalities

Updated March 26, 2020

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A staff worker in Las Vegas pressure washes handrails at Centennial Hills Park as part of an effort to keep the city's 70 parks open for the public during the coronavirus pandemic on March 25. — AFP
A staff worker in Las Vegas pressure washes handrails at Centennial Hills Park as part of an effort to keep the city's 70 parks open for the public during the coronavirus pandemic on March 25. — AFP

WASHINGTON: As the coronavirus crisis intensified in the United States, three Pakistanis have been identified among 730 people who have died across the country, it emerged on Wednesday.

Two of them died in New York and one in the US capital.

Rehman Shukr, son of Major General Abeera Choudhry and retired Brig Irfan Shukr, contracted Covid-19 earlier this month and was hospitalised in Washington where he died on Tuesday, according to social media reports.

The 26-year-old was a financial system specialist at the International Monetary Fund. His mother is a gynaecologist in the Army Medical Corps (AMC) and his father works at a private medical university in Islamabad.

“Hard to decide whether the human aspect of the disease is more important than its implications on the economy,” Rehman posted these sentences from a New York Times article on his Facebook newsfeed on March 21. “Very easy to let emotion guide policy, and we’ve seen time after time why that’s a bad idea.”

Two died in New York and one in Washington

Other Pakistanis whose lives were taken away by the virus in the US include New York-based businessman Haji Iqbal Warraich and an unnamed Pakistani woman. Both died in New York on March 23.

Mr Warraich was a philanthropist contributing regularly to Pakistani and US charities. He was also active in community affairs. He was buried in Long Island, New York.

The Pakistani woman who died of the virus was already hospitalised in Brooklyn, New York, when she became infected with Covid-19, her friends and family said. They also said they did not wish to disclose her name to the media. She was interred in Marlboro, New Jersey.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday that more than 30,800 people had tested positive for the virus in his state, the epicentre of the US outbreak, and more than 17,800 in New York City alone, Reuters reported.

The state has reported 285 deaths and roughly half of US’s reported infections, the wire agency added.

Across the US, more than 53,000 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus that is particularly perilous to the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions, with at least 730 deaths.

World Health Organisation officials have said the United States could become the global epicentre of the pandemic, which first emerged late last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

On March 11, the virus claimed the life of the first Pakistani. But much to the relief of local health authorities and government officials back then, the person was in Italy when he passed away.

A statement issued by a spokesperson for the Foreign Office in Islamabad said the man’s name was Imtiaz Ahmed and was 61 years of age. He died of Covid-19 in Brescia, a city in the northern Italian region of Lombardy.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2020