292 ‘unreported’ Covid deaths added to Punjab tally

Updated 21 Nov 2020


In this file photo, people stand in circles drawn with chalk to maintain safe distance outside a bank in Lahore on March 30. — Reuters/File
In this file photo, people stand in circles drawn with chalk to maintain safe distance outside a bank in Lahore on March 30. — Reuters/File

LAHORE: The data entry system of the Punjab government has become embroiled in a controversy after an audit report revealed that nearly 300 Covid-19 deaths caused by the pandemic went ‘unreported’ in the province.

Of them 145 deaths occurred in Lahore, 42 in Rawalpindi and 29 in Multan.

In the related disturbing report, the positivity rate of the virus in Multan has reached 19.9pc and in Rawalpindi 17.7pc.

These two districts of Punjab were at the third and fourth positions among the top 14 cities of the country that were hot spots of the infection.

Till Nov 19, the Punjab government claimed the total number of deaths of the coronavirus patients was 2,519.However, this toll jumped to 2,811 on Friday when the audit report confirmed that 292 deaths that occurred from March to the mid-November across the province remained unreported.Fifteen critical patients who breathed their last during the last 24 hours were also added to the abovementioned death toll.

15 more deaths, 609 cases reported in last 24 hours; Multan, Pindi positivity rate alarming

It is yet to be clarified who was responsible for ‘concealing’ Covid-19 deaths in such a large number.

The audit report, however, cited some key reasons behind this ‘death scam’ instead of fixing the responsibility on the officers.The health authorities claimed that 292 deaths remained unreported due to incomplete names of patients, residential addresses, non-provision of national identity cards and delay in making entries to the system.

The department said the data audit of the Covid-19 deaths was carried out jointly by the Primary & Secondary Healthcare Department, the Punjab Healthcare Commission and the coronavirus experts’ advisory group.

The medical and health experts who were part of the audit team analysed each and every death before according approval to report them officially.

“We have reported 292 new Covid-19 deaths to the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) to make them a part of the record,” said a spokesperson for the Punjab health department.

He said that after adding the number to the Punjab’s data entry system, the death toll of Covid-19 has reached 2,811 across the province.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson said, 609 more people tested positive for the virus during the last 24 hours in Punjab, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 112,893.

Of the new cases, 264 were reported in Lahore, 94 in Rawalpindi, 51 in Multan and others were reported from Kasur, Mandi Bahauddin, Layyah, Chiniot, Sialkot, Sargodha, Jhelum, Rajanpur, Narowal, Chakwal, Jhang, Khanewal, Faisalabad, Khushab, Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Rahim Yar Khan, Toba Tek Singh, DG Khan, Bhakkar, Vehari etc.

On Friday, the Primary & Secondary Healthcare Department notified revised guidelines for the marriage halls to implement them in letter and spirit with effect from Nov 20 across the province.

According to the guidelines, a complete ban has been imposed on holding of wedding ceremonies inside marriage halls.

The government, however, allowed people to arrange such events in open places while limiting timing and number of guests to fight the second wave of the Covid-19.

Only 300 people would be allowed to participate in the outdoor marriage events, the notification reads.

It said marriage halls found violating the standard operating procedures (SOPs) would be imposed a heavy fine and closed for a specified time.

The participants would attend marriage ceremonies with covered faces and maintain proper distance.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2020