MINGORA: Panic has spread among the residents of Zamarud Kan area here over the death of three members of a local family by novel coronavirus.

The people told Dawn that a 40-year-old resident died six days ago with his family members attributing the death to a heart attack.

They added that they later learned that the deceased had coronavirus symptoms and the National Institute of Health declared a confirmed Covid-19 case. The people said the deceased’s mother and father, too, tested positive for the virus later and that the two breathed their last within three days. They said the locals along with relatives attended the funeral prayers of the deceased in large numbers.

When contacted, district health officer Dr Mohammad Ikram Shah confirmed the three coronavirus deaths and said the six members of that Zamarud Kan area family were diagnosed with the virus.

“Health officials are on the spot collecting more samples from the deceased’s family members and other close contacts,” he said.

The DHO said the entire area had been sealed and declared a quarantine facility, while samples were being collected from the suspected cases. However, the deceased’s family continues to deny that the deaths were caused by Covid-19. It claims that the three members, who passed away lately, didn’t have virus symptoms.

“My brother was not a coronavirus patient. He died of a heart attack but the health department and district administration declared him a coronavirus case. My mother couldn’t stand the sorrow of his death and passed away. My father breathed his last the other day due to the same grief,” claimed a family member of the first deceased. He insisted that none of the deceased had coronavirus symptoms.

Though majority of the relatives attended the funeral prayers and other final rites, some said they didn’t show up after learning about the detection of coronavirus symptoms in the first deceased.

A relative said the health officials and district administration properly guided his family about the Covid-19 precautionary steps but the deceased didn’t observe social distancing.

“We are tense and confused as all of us met the deceased them,” he said. The residents, who took part in funeral processions, demanded of the government to strictly enforce lockdown in the area and ensure their Covid-19 testing.

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2020