SWAT: Surge in the number of deaths of Covid-19 patients during the last six days has triggered fear among the people in Swat.

According to the district health office, about 18 patients of Covid-19 died in Saidu Group of Teaching Hospital during the last six days, taking the death toll to 72 in the district. About 230 positive cases have been registered during the same period, making the total number of cases in the district 1,841.

Swat is one of the 20 worst hit districts by the pandemic in the country, according to a list issued by National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC). Swat was listed 10th in the country and second in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as the worst affected district.

“It is really alarming for us that not only high number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 is being reported daily but the death rate is also very high in Swat. I don’t know what to do and how to protect our elders as most of the victims of Covid-19 are elderly people having comorbidities,” said Rafiqullah Khan, a social activist in Mingora.

He said that civil society members and government must take solid steps for a strict lockdown in Swat.

Akbar Ali, whose father was admitted to high dependency unit of SGTH, said that his father was in critical condition. “Yesterday eight Covid-19 patients died and all of them were elderly people having comorbidities. I am depressed because my father is also a cardiac patient and in critical condition,” he said.

The civil society members said that district health office issued a list of only those deceased, who were either admitted to SGTH or conducted tests at government laboratory. “Many Covid-19 patients die on daily basis across the district but they are not being counted because they either conduct tests for Covid-19 in a private laboratory or do not bother to conduct test,” said Niaz Ahmad Khan, a local journalist.

Although majority of people seemed scared after learning about the increasing number of deaths of Covid-19 patients, yet many others do not bother about the preventive measures.

Dr Najibullah, the focal person for Covid-19 at SGTH, when contacted, said that daily 10 to 15 critical patients of Covid-19 were admitted to the hospital.

“Majority of the deceased were aged and having comorbidities including diabetes, hypertension, asthma, cardiac issue, kidney infection etc,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2020