Six employees of the Sindh Agriculture Department died in different areas of the province after exposure to an anti-locust pesticide, minister Ismail Rahu said on Tuesday.
Rahu said the employees had fainted while the pesticide was being sprayed, after which they were taken to hospitals.
He said four of them were also diagnosed with the novel coronavirus at hospitals, while two had suffered cardiac arrests, according to medical reports.
Rahu said in a summary presented to Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, he had requested that the deceased be declared "martyrs" and also urged the chief minister to provide jobs to their family members.
He said he had also requested the government to issue bonuses for those participating in the anti-locust spray campaign.
The campaign against locusts was started by the Sindh government last year in order to protect crops from attacks.
Locust swarms entered Balochistan last year in March and spread to Sindh by June 2019. After summer breeding in Nara and Thar deserts of Sindh, locusts migrated to the Indian Rajasthan desert in July and re-entered in Sindh in October 2019, partially destroying the crop of wheat, mustard and vegetables.
Last month, the federal government announced that a Beaver aircraft had been deployed in Tharparkar for aerial spray to control locusts.
According to a report by the World Bank, Pakistan is located at a crossroads for migration of desert locusts in South Asia. Therefore, effectively controlling the locust crisis is not only crucial for Pakistan itself, but is critical for the entire Southwest Asia region.