RAWALPINDI/Islamabad: At least 125 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in Rawalpindi on Thursday, while one person has died and 29 people have recovered from the disease while in Islamabad three more people have died of Covid-19 and 97 new cases have been reported.

Even as Covid-19 cases continue to escalate, markets and shopping centres are open to shoppers while standard operating procedures (SOP) issued to prevent the spread of the coronavirus are not being enforced.

Action has not been taken against shopping centres or shopkeepers violating these guidelines despite directives to this effect from Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar.

A 62-year-old man who lived on Awan Chowk in Pirwadhai died of Covid-19 on May 21, two days after he was brought to Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH).

Markets, shops allowed to stay open until 10pm in Rawalpindi to reduce crowding

As of Thursday, 75 people have died from the disease in Rawalpindi and 606 people have recovered. There have now been 1,997 cases in total, of which 1,316 patients are still receiving treatment - 412 in hospitals and 904 in isolation at home.

Another 512 suspected patients have been brought to Rawalpindi’s three hospitals and their samples have been sent to the National Institute of Health and the BBH laboratory. The results will take three to four days.

The number of cases reported in Rawalpindi has been rising in comparison to those reported in the neighbouring three districts of Attock, Jhelum and Chakwal. Four patients were reported from all three districts on Thursday - one in Attock and three in Chakwal - while Rawalpindi district reported 125.

Commissioner retired Capt Mohammad Mehmood told Dawn that a new notification has been issued allowing markets and shops to stay open until 10pm.

He said the longer shopping hours aimed to reduce crowding in markets, as many people visit markets in the morning and some would visit at night.

He said the Punjab government has directed district administrations across the province to implement SOPs in markets, mosques and imambargahs in the last few days of Ramazan.

He said people need to be made aware about the need for safety measures, as the World Health Organisation has warned that people will have to live with the coronavirus in the near future. He said people need to change their lifestyles and take precautions to protect themselves and their families.

Mr Mehmood said the number of Covid-19 patients is increasing in Rawalpindi, and people have to take precautions and avoid leaving their homes.

He added that the government-run hospitals have enough kits to test suspected Covid-19 patients. There are 5,056 kits available in the four districts of Rawalpindi, including 800 in Rawalpindi, 1,581 in Attock, 791 in Jhelum and 1,884 in Chakwal.

Three deaths, 97 new cases in capital

Three more people have died of Covid-19 in Islamabad and 97 new cases have been reported.

Capital administration and hospital officials said 12 Covid-19 patients who were residents of Islamabad have died so far.

On Thursday, two deaths were reported from Alipur and Tarlai, and a patient died at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) whose address is not known.

Another 55 patients who were residents of other districts have also died at various Islamabad hospitals, they said. Most of the deceased patients had other conditions as well, such as diabetes, asthma, blood pressure and cardiac or kidney disease.

Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Hamza Shafqaat told Dawn that a 48-year-old Covid-19 patient died at a private hospital.

He said people with other medical conditions and those above the age of 60 are at very high risk, as their chances of surviving Covid-19 are meagre and they must take precautions.

Pims Joint Executive Director Dr Minhajus Siraj told Dawn that a 65-year-old patient died in the ambulance on his way to Pims from a private hospitals.

The total number of Covid-19 cases in Islamabad has increased to 1,235.

Of the 97 new cases, 15 were reported from I-10, 12 from Loi Bher, eight from G-13, seven from Gokina, six from G-10, five each from G-9, Rawat and Tarlai, three each from G-11, and Sohan, two each from Bhara Kahu, D-12, F-10, F-11, F-6, F-7, I-8, Khanna, Shahzad Town, and one each from Alipur, Chirrah, G-15, G-6, G-7, I-9, H-8 and Sihala. The addresses of the two patients are not known.

I-10 has now reported 101 cases, followed by 79 in Lohi Bher, 77 in Tarlai, 66 in Bhara Kahu, 62 in G-6, 54in I-8, 53 each in G-7 and Sohan and 51 in G-13, capital administration officials said.

The District Health Office has traced 127 contacts of 104 patients reported on Wednesday. Of these, samples were collected from 71 people and sent for testing.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2020