Quetta: Two more Congo fever patients are being shifted to a private hospital in Karachi through an Edhi air ambulance from Quetta airport.—Dawn
Quetta: Two more Congo fever patients are being shifted to a private hospital in Karachi through an Edhi air ambulance from Quetta airport.—Dawn

KARACHI: Another patient suffering from Crimean-Congo Haemo­rrhagic Fever (CCHF) died at a private hospital on Wednesday, raising the death toll during the past four days to two, sources told Dawn.

The day also saw the shifting of two patients from Quetta to Karachi through an air ambulance operated by the Edhi welfare service.

The deaths, they said, were reported at the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) where four more patients affected by the tick-borne virus were brought.

“The total number of patients including both suspected and those tested positive for CCHF is now 16. Of them, 12 have tested positive for the disease while lab results of four patients are awaited,” AKUH official Shabbir Alam said, adding that the condition of one patient was critical.

“Two patients, one of them tested negative for CCHF and the other who recovered from the infection, have been discharged,” he added.

While Mr Alam decli­n­­ed to comment when ask­ed if the deceased was a healthcare provider who was lately shifted from Quetta to Karachi, sources said he was not a healthcare provider.

The deceased was identified as 35-year-old Mir Waiz Khan, a resident of Pishin, they added.

Asked about the identity of the deceased, a spokesperson of Baloch­istan health department expressed his unawareness about the cases and said only Dr Shakrullah had so far died of Congo fever in recent days.

“We are told that two doctors and one staff nurse are in critical condition at AKUH,” said Dr Wasim Baig, media coordinator of the health department.

Balochistan health dep­artment’s data on Congo fever showed the last two years have seen a significantly high number of CCHF infections and mortalities in the province, with 21 deaths recorded last year and 20 mortalities this year so far.

Two airlifted to Karachi

Meanwhile, sources said, a ward boy, Ghani, and a security guard, Sadiq, who had been in contact with Congo positive doctors, have been airlifted to the AKUH, Karachi.

Dr Hafeez Kakar of Young Doctors’ Associa­tion claimed that the Balochistan government hadn’t yet provided the air ambulance service, which was arranged by doctors on their own.

However, the caretaker chief minister of Baloch­is­tan claimed that the provincial go­­­vernment would bear their medical expe­nses. “The caretaker government will not leave infected patients alone in this hard time,” Ali Mardan Domki said.

The CM said the two more pat­ients, who had been under treatment in Quetta, were shifted to Karachi through air ambulance in view of their condition.

A health official said, “Efforts are under way to save lives of doctors and other health providers admitted in the hospital.”

The CM in a meeting also reviewed the measu­res taken by the relevant authorities to control spre­­ad of the virus in Quetta. He said animal markets across the province were being sprayed with insecticides.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Coast Guards officials de­­nied the report the ambulance carrying a patient of Congo fever was detained at the Winder checkpoint for long, which caused his death on way to Karachi.

The “coast guards have not stopped the ambulance at the Winder check post,” a spokesman for the PCG said, explaining that traffic on the highway remained suspended for some time after a truck had overturned in the Winder area of Lasbela district.

Saleem Shahid in Quetta also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2023

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