Death toll from COVID-19 mounts to 43 in Pakistan

April 05, 2020

By Our CorrespondentsISLAMABAD: The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan rose to 2,768 on Saturday after new infections were confirmed in the country, while the death toll stands at 43.Out...

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By Our Correspondents

ISLAMABAD: The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan rose to 2,768 on Saturday after new infections were confirmed in the country, while the death toll stands at 43.

Out of 43 deaths, 14 were reported in Sindh, 13 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 12 in Punjab, three in Gilgit-Baltistan and one in Balochistan. Punjab remains the most affected province 1,133 confirmed cases, followed by Sindh with 839 cases, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 372, Gilgit-Baltistan 194, Balochistan 189, Islamabad Capital Territory 75 and AJK 12 cases.

A total of 64 new Covid-19 patients were confirmed across Punjab on Saturday, taking the number of confirmed cases to 1,133.

As many as 10 preachers and 623 participants of Tableeghi Jamaat had been quarantined in 33 districts. So far, a total of 296 of them have been tested positive for the novel coronavirus. These patients are being looked after properly.

As many as 312 Zaireen confirmed as coronavirus positive are being treated at various quarantine facilities, while 525 patients are isolated at home and health facilities in various districts in Punjab. Presently, there are at least 220 patients in different hospitals in Lahore, 93 in Gujrat, 56 in Rawalpindi, 29 in Jhelum, 22 in Gujranwala, 14 in Mandi Bahauddin, 11 in Nankana Sahib, nine each in Vehari and Faisalabad, eight in Kasur, seven in Sialkot, six in Hafizabad, five each in Sargodha, Dera Ghazi Khan and Chiniot, four in Multan, three each in Mianwali, Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Lodhran and Narowal and one patient each in Attock, Khushab, Layyah and Sheikhupura.

Earlier, as many as 597 confirmed patients including 309 pilgrims, 285 members of Tableeghi Jamaat and three prisoners were at quarantine centres. As many as 213 pilgrims are getting treatment at a quarantine facility in Dera Ghazi Khan, 91 in Multan and five in Faisalabad. Out of 285 COVID-19 patients belonging to Tableeghi Jamaat, 251 are in Raiwind, 13 in Sargodha, nine in Vehari, six in Rawalpindi, three in Mandi Bahauddin, two in Nankana Sahib and one in Gujrat. Three prisoners are at a quarantine facility in Camp Jail.

As many as 490 patients are getting treatment at health centres across the province. So far COVID-19 patients have been reported from 26 districts. A total of 11 people have succumbed to coronavirus in Punjab so far including five in Lahore, four in Rawalpindi and one each in Faisalabad and Rahim Yar Khan.

As per the spokesperson for the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department, all patients are getting treatment at isolation wards. He said serious patients were immediately shifted to High Dependency Units. He urged people to stay at home, frequently wash hands and use hand sanitizer. He advised social distancing and precautionary measures while attending sick family members.

Eight people died in the past two days in KP including four confirmed coronavirus patients and another four whose results are still awaited. The latest deaths took the toll from the Covid-19 to 13 in the province.

Also, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan on Saturday said that tests of 109 patients from Mardan’s Manga area were found negative and the government would now gradually open the village to its residents.

“Good news for Mardan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as 109 COVID19 tests of different parts of Manga found negative by the NIH (National Institute of Health). We will disinfect the area and will gradually open the union council to the people. It proved effectiveness of the measures taken by the administration after surge of cases in Manga. We stand committed for safety of our people,” the chief minister said in a tweet.

Manga union council in Mardan was the first place in KP where coronavirus patients were reported. Also, the first fatality of coronavirus in the country was reported from Manga, where one Saadat Khan died after reportedly contracting the disease in Saudi Arabia where he had gone to perform Umrah.

He is said to have infected 79 people in his village where he hosted a feast for hundreds of villagers to celebrate his pilgrimage. The virus could have spread to the entire district had the Mardan Police not reacted in time by locking down the Manga union council for 14 days.

The police did a good job without having adequate personal protective equipment and earned appreciation.

“People initially didn’t know about the disease and the way it spreads so quickly. I am sure people from other places in Mardan and elsewhere would have visited Manga for funeral of Saadat Khan or meeting their relatives after outbreak of the virus. But the Mardan Police immediately locked down the area and didn’t allow a single person to either enter or come out during these 14 days,” explained local social worker in Manga, Liaqat Ali Shah.

He said the police besides manning roadside checkpoints also used to create awareness among the terrified villagers and convince them to stay home.

He said low-ranked cops as well as senior police officers remained close to the villagers and made the lockdown a success. A number of police officials also contracted the Covid-19 virus.

Meanwhile, coronavirus continued to claim lives in KP.

On Saturday, four people died at the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH), all belonging to Peshawar. Two of them, Najam Gul, 62, and Taj Malook, 50, had tested positive for coronavirus. Najam Gul had returned from the Tableeghi ijtema in Raiwind in Lahore. He belonged to Police Colony, Nasir Bagh Road in Peshawar.

Taj Malook was resident of Khan Mast Colony in Yakatoot, Peshawar. The two other patients who died were also coronavirus suspects and admitted to LRH though their tests were awaited. Doctors said they had symptoms of coronavirus.

Mohammad Saleem, 76, was the resident of Gulbahar area while Rahman Gul, 65, was from Yakatoot and had also attended the Tableeghi gathering in Raiwind. Earlier on Friday, two patients had died of coronavirus while 32 people had tested positive, taking the total number of positive cases to 343.

Two other patients, a male and female, who were declared coronavirus suspects had also died on Friday at the LRH. The female had tested negative while report of 90-year old man, identified as Yar Jan, and belonging to Nauthia in Peshawar Saddar is awaited.

“Both of them had multiple health issues and were brought to us in critical condition,” said an official of LRH.

Of the two patients who died of coronavirus in the past 24 hours in KP, one belonged to Swat and the other to Mansehra.

The patient in Swat was earlier admitted to the Saidu Teaching Hospital and his swab was sent to the Khyber Medical University (KMU) in Peshawar for tests.

The patient however died before his test result was completed. He was 42 and had reportedly no major health complications. His funeral prayer was offered by 10 people in the hospital premises during the night and the body was later delivered to his family for burial. He was reportedly laid to rest by trained staff wearing personal protection equipment (PPE). Some of the journalists quoting relatives of the deceased alleged that the doctors in the hospital were scared to go close to the patient and provide him adequate medical services.

Saidu Teaching Hospital is the lone tertiary care hospital in the entire Malakand Division, located in Swat, home district of Chief Minister Mahmood Khan.

The doctors and health workers were reportedly lacking the personal protection equipment (PPE), which were only delivered to them on Friday.

Officials in the hospital, however, argued that as per protocol they had provided all possible care to the patient when he was brought to them.

The other patient who died of coronavirus in Mansehra was 65. Both had tested positive for Covid-19.

The situation in Swat is deteriorating with each passing day.

Of the 32 new confirmed positive cases of coronavirus in KP, 10 alone were reported from Swat. In Swat journalists complained that the district administration had earlier ignored the coronavirus patient reported from Matta subdivision on March 19. They claimed the patient had infected seven more people of his family and now the village has been declared as quarantine.

After Swat, Hangu with eight positive cases had the second highest number of patients in KP, followed by Abbotabad with six positive cases.

Peshawar has reported four cases while one each positive case came from Buner and Upper Dir.

Interestingly, there was no positive case reported from the ‘zaireen’ who returned from Iran via Taftan and were quarantined in Dera Ismail Khan and Peshawar.

According to sources in the health department, they are still having issues related to ‘proper and timely’ investigations of the patients.

“The government is working on enhancing the number of laboratories and increasing investigations but there is no success so far. The only reason that would put us in trouble in KP is the lack of enough investigations,” said the official.

He said the government would need to increase the number of laboratories and tests of the patients if it wanted to overcome the pandemic in the province.

As many as 42 new suspects of coronavirus were registered in Azad Jammu Kashmir during last 24 hours and all of them got tested, the State Health Authorities said in an official statement issued on Saturday.

In Sindh, Senator Murtaza Wahab said 12 more persons recovered from coronavirus. The total number of recovered persons in Sindh now stands at 86.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza on Saturday said all the concerned public sector organisations were closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation to make further plans as per changing conditions. In a televised daily briefing on COVID-19, Dr Mirza said all federal, provincial, civil and military organisations were fully committed to control further spread of the disease and protect the citizens from this virus.

He said working had been completed on needs and requirement of all necessary medical equipment and health professionals to combat COVID-19. He said wrong figures and other estimates were being shared on social media on COVID-19 and asked the citizens to avoid further sharing such false information and continue trust on the government.

He said National Command and Control Centre had a crucial role at this stage and working effectively for sharing accurate information besides creating awareness among public about the disease. Dr Mirza said manufacturers should avoid selling substandard sanitizers in the market and stressed the need to have check on this wrong practice. He also asked the health professionals and staff to properly use protection kits.

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