Govt claims 27pc cases due to local transmission

Published March 30, 2020
Another medical professional dies in GB; death toll rises to 16. — AFP
Another medical professional dies in GB; death toll rises to 16. — AFP

• Another medical professional dies in GB
• Death toll rises to 16

ISLAMABAD: Only a day after the government claim about low mortality rate of coronavirus in Pakistan and the decision to extend borders closure for another fortnight, the death toll jumped to 16 with two women in Punjab, a man in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and a medical professional in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) among the latest victims.

A female patient of Covid-19 in Rawalpindi and another woman, who had been under treatment in Rahim Yar Khan since her recent return from Saudi Arabia, died on Sunday while Abbottabad witnessed the death of an elderly man and a radiologist lost his life while serving in GB’s Nagar district.

Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar in the late evening hours tweeted, “Sadly we have lost another soul to Covid-19 today. A 68-year-old lady who came from KSA and was under treatment in RYK. So far we have lost 6 lives while 593 patients are under treatment.”

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, provincial information minister Ajmal Wazir confirmed to the media that a 78-year-old patient in Abbottabad died due to which number of casualties in the KP province rose to five.

In Gilgit-Baltistan, another medical staffer, Malik Ashdar, died from coronavirus. The radiologist was serving at a government health unit in Sumair village of Nagar. He was shifted to Minapin quarantine centre in Nagar district before his death. The deceased had no foreign travel history, officials said.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza earlier told a presser in Islamabad that 420 cases, which was over 27 per cent of the 1,526 confirmed case, were the result of local transmission of virus.

The PM’s aide said: “Over 120 cases have been reported during the last 24 hours. But a good thing is that as many as 28 victims have been fully recovered. We have reduced the pace of cases due to effective steps of social distancing but all those successes can be ruined if people ignore social distancing.

“As many as 857 cases were reported in the persons who had travelled to Iran and 191 persons, found positive for Covid-19 tests, had travelled to different countries other than Iran,” Dr Mirza said.

The Balochistan home minister told the media in Quetta that the provincial government had fulfilled its obligation to keep the pilgrims, who had returned from Iran, in quarantine and handed over their complete record to the provincial governments.

While talking about the supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), the PM’s aide said that supplies, sufficient for one month, had been provided to the administrations of Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Earlier in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, two doctors of Polyclinic hospital and another doctor of Benazir Bhutto hospital tested positive. Twenty eight doctors and two paramedics were shifted to quarantine afterwards.

Meanwhile, a team of Chinese health experts, led by Ambassador of China to Pakistan Mr Luo Zhaohui, visited the National Institute of Health (NIH) for sharing their expertise in the fight against Covid-19.

NIH Executive Director Maj Gen Aamer Ikram briefed the Chinese team comprising epidemiologist, ICU specialist, IPC specialist, medical specialist and outbreak control specialist about the situation of Covid-19 in Pakistan and major response activities. The Chinese ambassador said Pakistan was the first priority for China as both countries were all-weather friends. China would continue to support Pakistan, he added.

While sharing the global situation, the PM’s aide on health told the media that over 650,000 people had contracted the disease and over 31,000 had died across the world.

In Sindh, officials and sources said, 33 patients tested positive for the virus despite the lockdown being enforced by law-enforcement agencies and the appeal to the masses for social distancing.

Sharing the latest number with the media, the spokesperson for the health ministry confirmed that all the new 33 cases were caused by local transmission of the deadly virus. The number of patients in Karachi grew to 222 out of total 502 cases across the province. Among them, 171 patients were those who suffered the infection as secondary contacts with no history of international travelling.

In Balochistan, however, seven out of total 141 cases were caused by local transmission amid the lockdown being enforced in all 33 districts for a sixth consecutive day.

The officials said 135 Covid-19 patients including three doctors were under treatment at Quetta’s hospital.

While talking to reporters Balochistan Home Minister Mir Ziaullah Langove appealed to the people once again to show patience and to remain confined to their homes. “The Balochistan government will not leave people alone in difficult conditions,” he said.

While responding to a question, he said the provincial government had contacted the federal government as soon as the epidemic came to light. “It was advised that Iranian government be contacted that Pakistani pilgrims shall not be sent back to Pakistan without screening. According to him, the provincial government had also informed the Iranian authorities of this concern and they had no option but to allow thousands of pilgrims to return to the country.

Meanwhile, a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) IL- 78 aircraft carrying 14 tonnes of cargo comprising ventilators, N95 masks and protective gear landed at PAF Base Nur Khan.

Imran Ayub from Karachi, Jamil Nagri from Gilgit and Saleem Shahid from Quetta also contributed to this report.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2020

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