PESHAWAR: In a surprise move, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Friday transferred health secretary Yahya Akhunzada as novel coronavirus claimed two more lives taking death toll from the epidemic in the province to 10.

Mr Akhunzada was made the coordinator of the Command and Control Centre on March 29 to argument capacity of the department and to strengthen and coordinate the Covid-19 response in the province.

The transfer order surprised many in the health department. Some of them stayed with the outgoing secretary until 2am on Friday for discussion on strategies against the virus.

“You don’t change guards in the middle of a war,” said a health department official.

Officials said Mr Akhunzada, who had assumed office in Sept 2019, was motivational and hardworking and worked as true team leader.

Deaths reported in Mansehra, Swat

Mr Akhunzada was replaced by Imtiaz Hussain Shah, who held the post of the information secretary.

The officials said Mr Shah, who belonged to the Pakistan Administrative Service, was a hardworking and intelligent bureaucrat.

Health minister Taimur Salim Jhagra didn’t respond to the calls and text messages of Dawn on the matter.

The Covid-19 patients, who died on Friday, belonged to Mansehra and Swat districts.

Thirty-two new confirmed cases of the virus were reported in the province during the day.

They included 10 in Swat, eight Hangu, six in Abbottabad, two in Mansehra and one each in Buner and Dir Upper districts.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases reached four in Buner district.

Three of them recovered from the disease.

District focal person for fight against coronavirus Dr Tariq Khan said a new Covid-19 case was reported in Elai village.

The administration sealed the areas, where cases were reported. Partial lockdown continued in Buner district.

A 48-year-old man died of the virus in the Saidu Teaching Hospital, Mingora.

According to deputy commissioner Saqib Raza Aslam, a total of 18 confirmed coronavirus cases were reported in Swat.

He said the results of the test of 84 suspected cases were waited.

The deputy commissioner said three residents of Aryanai village in Bahrain tehsil had tested positive for the virus.

In Mansehra, a man, who had died in a public sector hospital two days ago, was found to be infected with Covid-19.

Deputy medical superintendent of the King Abdullah Teaching Hospital Dr Yasir said the death was the first by coronavirus in the district.

“The Public Health Reference Laboratory has detected Covid-19 in the deceased’s body,” he told reporters on Friday.

In Abbottabad, 25 of the total of 33 suspected cases have tested negative for coronavirus.

The officials said those cases were sent home from the Ayub Teaching Hospital, while eight were admitted.

They said four suspected patients had tested positive for the virus, while the reports of tests of four were awaited.

Amber Javed, media manager of ATH, said two of those four cases were sent home on complete recovery, while the remaining were under treatment and were in good condition.

In Haripur, 32 suspected cases have tested negative for the virus.

According to district health officer Dr Saifullah Khalid, a total of 71 suspected coronavirus cases were reported in Haripur during the last two weeks, while samples from them were sent to the National Institute of Health for examination.

He said 32 of those cases had been tested negative for the virus and four positive, while the results of the tests of the rest were awaited.

The DHO said all four confirmed cases were recovering from the disease fast.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2020