Figures circulating in the media about the number of deaths of Pakistani Americans in the US from the coronavirus are only "guesstimates" and have not been authenticated by official sources, the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, DC said in a statement on Saturday.
The clarification comes after media reports quoting officials said more than one hundred Pakistanis were among the 8,000 people who have died of the virus in the New York region.
"There are no formally confirmed figures available from any official source in the US. These are guesstimates being informally quoted by community sources and some funeral homes. Such figures cannot, therefore, be authenticated," the embassy said.
It added that it has received no reports, "even informal ones", of the deaths of Pakistani Americans from the consulates in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston.
The statement noted, however, that the situation from the pandemic in the US is evolving rapidly. "The embassy and the consulate generals are in touch with our community members and will be ready to extend every assistance and support wherever needed," it said.
Pakistan’s Consul General Ayesha Ali had told Dawn that information collected from hospitals, funeral homes and families indicated that "more than 100 Pakistanis have died of this virus in the New York-New Jersey region."
“Some Pakistanis have also died in other states,” Pakistan Embassy spokesperson Zoobia Masood had earlier said. “We are still collecting information about how this disease has affected the Pakistani-American community.”
Statistics released in New York show that the disease has had a devastating impact on ethnic minorities. The highest number of deaths — 34 per cent — happened in the Hispanic community, followed by African-Americans, at 28pc. The Whites are third on the list with 27pc deaths while 7pc of the fatalities happened in the Asian-American community, which also includes Indians and Pakistanis.
“We fear the death toll will increase as more information filters in,” said Consul General Ali, adding that the consulate was working with the community to help those affected. “We have a very strong community here. They are doing a lot on their own,” she said.
The community has also arranged free distribution of food for those in the vulnerable age group – 50 years old and above – who cannot risk going out for grocery. Statistics show that more than 90pc of the deaths have occurred in this group.