RAWALPINDI: The Punjab Home Department has sought a report from division police chiefs across the province on illegal blood plasma transfusions from recovered Covid-19 patients at high prices.

Sources said that the provincial government stated there had been reports of involvement in illegal blood transfusions at high prices.

They said the Punjab government has directed all city and district police chiefs to submit a comprehensive report on any action taken against people allegedly involved in illegally selling or buying the blood plasma of recovered Covid-19 patients at high prices.

With reports of illegal sales and purchase of convalescent plasma, health authorities said plasma therapy should not be considered a cure for Covid-19, and warned that there could be serious side effects of plasma therapy.

A spokesperson for the Rawalpindi police told Dawn that no case has emerged of illegal sale or purchase of blood plasma from recovered Covid-19 patients so far, but an FIE has been registered against an individual for selling a medication - an injection used to treat Covid-19 - at a much higher price.

Meanwhile, eight people tested positive for Covid-19 in Rawalpindi district on Tuesday, while 13 patients recovered.

There were also 15 new cases reported in hospitals on Muharram 10 and 11; nine patients were diagnosed on Aug 30 and six on Aug 31. There were no recoveries or deaths reported.

Rawalpindi district has now reported 6,712 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 280 deaths and 6,251 recoveries. There are currently 202 people still awaiting Covid-19 test results, as the laboratories in the garrison city are operating slowly.

There are 91 patients admitted to the Rawalpindi Institute of Urology, Holy Family Hospital, Benazir Bhutto Hospital and District Headquarters Hospital. Of them, 11 are from within the district and the rest from elsewhere. Another 84 patients are isolated in their homes, and are being checked by 10 District Health Authority teams.

Local administrations have also quarantined 328 people who were in close contact with previously confirmed patients.

According to data from the Rawalpindi division, 8,094 people have tested positive for Covid-19 since March, including 6,712 in Rawalpindi, 613 in Attock, 428 in Jhelum and 287 in Chakwal.

Commissioner retired Capt Mohammad Mehmood told Dawn that the number of Covid-19 cases has not risen in the division, while there are 14 critical patients in hospital in the four districts and no deaths have been reported in the last two weeks.

However, he said, fewer new cases does not mean that the coronavirus has been eradicated in the region and precautions need to be taken to prevent Covid-19 from spreading further.

Islamabad

Another 24 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the capital on Tuesday, an increase compared to the 14 new cases reported on Sunday and Monday, respectively.

On Monday, three cases were reported in F-6, two each in G-13, F-5, G-15 and Margalla Road and one each in G-9, Ghouri Town and F-11.

The District Health Office has traced 337 contacts of the 14 new patients, and samples have been taken from 211 suspected patients and sent to the National Institute of Health for testing.

All 14 patients are isolated in their homes, while their 211 contacts are in quarantine.

Islamabad has now reported 15,649 confirmed cases of Covid-19, of which 15,000 patients have recovered and 175 have died.— Additional reporting by Munawer Azeem

Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2020