LAHORE: A woman died of coronavirus in the provincial capital which also witnessed a sharp spike in cases after 101 more members at Tableeghi Jamaat Headquarters at Raiwind City tested positive for the virus besides 40 citizens in other parts of the city during the last 24 hours.
This surge has perturbed the health authorities who were already using all possible options to address the new situation. A major initiative was lockdown of the Raiwind city which houses over 0.2 million people.
There were 1,218 members of the Tableeghi Jamaat at the Raiwind Markaz from where the Punjab government had shifted many to Kala Shah Kaku and other parts of the province as a strategy to avoid epidemic. Still the centre has nearly 900 members of the religious group who have been quarantined to stop spread of the disease.
According to the daily situation report, new death of Covid-19 patient was reported in Mayo Hospital where a young woman succumbed to the virus. She was a case of local transmission of the virus and was admitted to the hospital on March 30.
Meanwhile, Punjab reported that 166 new patients tested positive for the virus all over the province during the last 24 hours, a highest figure recorded so far since the emergence of the disease. Most cases were reported from Lahore besides 24 from Gujrat and seven from Rawalpindi. The number of patients tested positive for the virus in Lahore reached 199 besides 143 at Tableeghi Jamaat Markaz at Raiwind.
Similarly, the confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached 90 in Gujrat besides 213 pilgrims who arrived from Iran in DG Khan and 91 pilgrims in Multan.
Eleven people – five in Lahore, four in Rawalpindi and one each in Rahim Yar Khan and Faisalabad – have died of the disease.
Screening: The Punjab government has claimed that screening of all participants in Tableeghi Ijtimaas (congregations) has been completed as they had been identified and quarantined at various locations across the province.
“The samples of all the identified participants [in Tableeghi congregations] have been collected and the respective divisional commissioners are expected to share the lab results with the Punjab government by Friday (today),”a source in the Punjab government told Dawn.
After segregating the Covid-19 positive and negative participants, the source said, Punjab government would consult other provinces as well as the federal government whether the positive ones should be quarantined within Punjab or transported to their respective provinces.
He said federal government would also be consulted about quarantine plan regarding the foreigners, including those belonging to Iraq, Greece, Sudan, Nigeria etc, among the congregations’ participants, the source said.
Meanwhile, at a meeting chaired by law minister Basharat Raja, it was decided that lists would be prepared of all the participants from other provinces and countries.
The meeting called to review coronavirus situation and administrative affairs of the province was attended by Chief Secretary Azam Suleman Khan, police Inspector General Shoaib Dastgir, Lahore Commissioner Saif Anjum and other officers concerned.
After the meeting was briefed that screening of all those who participated in Tableeghi congregation had almost been completed, the chief secretary directed all commissioners to submit their lists.
The meeting decided that mobile vans of livestock and social welfare departments would be used for screening of people.
As the meeting discussed that because of “overemphasis” on coronavirus patients and quarantine arrangements, other patients might be neglected, it was decided that all hospitals’ should make their OPDs functional for treatment of diseases other than Covid-19.
The chief secretary said the decision to allow opening of milk shops till 8pm was taken to facilitate people in buying milk as well as prevent financial loss to shopkeepers.
He also directed the commissioners to coordinate with dealers of pulses to keep the prices in control.
IG Mr Dastgir stressed that policemen, wardens and other staff performing duties in connection with coronavirus must be screened for the disease. He mentioned that during shifting of prisoners from one district to other, respective administrations should remain in contact. He asked regional police officers to ensure prompt response to ‘threat alerts’ issued by agencies.
The senior member board of revenue (SMBR) told the meeting that as many as 9.7 million applications had been received so far under Insaf Imdad Programme.
Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2020