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Corona claims first life in Punjab

LAHORE/PESHAWAR: The first death from coronavirus in the provincial capital was confirmed on Tuesday, as the number of COVID-19 cases soared to 265 across the province.

“Unfortunately, a COVID-19 patient Afrasiyab (57), who was admitted to Mayo Hospital here, lost his life today,” confirmed Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid.

The COVID-19 victim, a resident of Sheikhupura, who breathed his last at the Isolation Ward of Mayo Hospital, had no history of travel abroad. However, according to information, he had recently visited Azad Kashmir.

Meanwhile, 21 new confirmed coronavirus positive cases were reported across province, which took the toll of confirmed patients to 265 in Punjab.

A spokesman for Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department said that the details of all those, who had come into contact with the patient during the past 14 days, were being collected.

As per corona monitoring room at the department, a total of 176 coronavirus patients were pilgrims who recently returned from Iran. As many as 59 patients were under treatment in Lahore, 12 in Gujrat, seven in Gujranwala, three in Jhelum, two each in Multan and Rawalpindi and one each in Sargodha, Faisalabad, Mandi Bahauddin and Rahim Yar Khan.

Meanwhile, the police arrested Tahir Saeed, the husband of famous designer Maria B, for hiding illness of his cook Umar Farooq. Instead of sending the employee to a hospital after he tested positive for coronavirus by a private laboratory, Tahir Saeed sent him to his hometown Vehari on public transport. The police arrested Tahir Saeed from his residence in Suigas Society of Lahore and the legal process was being initiated against him.

The patient, Umar Farooq, has been traced with the help of police and shifted to isolation ward for treatment and his contact tracing was under way.

On the other hand, the Punjab government is most likely to extend closure of educational institutions and use the annual summer vacation to meet the requirements of academic calendar, it is learnt.

Sources privy to the developments said there were serious deliberations that in the wake of government’s efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus, the campuses should remain closed until May 31. They added that in order to cover academic loss of students, the government is planning to keep the campuses open after May 31 and use summer vacation for academic purposes.

In its March 13 meeting, the National Security Committee, presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan, had decided to close all educational institutions and tuition centres in the country till April 5. However, reopening of educational institutions from April 6 seems impossible, as the Punjab government has already announced a two-week partial lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Talking to The News, Punjab Schools Minister Dr Murad Raas said no final decision had been taken so far, but the government was seriously considering utilising summer vacation for academic activities to meet the requirement of academic calendar and to cover academic loss of students.

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah allowed 640 COVID-19 negative pilgrims housed at Labour Colony Sukkur to return to their respective homes but also bound them to follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) given to them as eight more persons were found infected with the Coroanvirus in Karachi while five more pilgrims from Iran, housed at Sukkur tested positive for the disease.

He took this decision in 27th meeting of Task Force on Coronavirus here at CM House. The meeting was attended by provincial ministers, advisor law, chief secretary, IG Sindh, PSCM, Home secretary, representatives of Corps 5, Rangers, Pak Navy, FIA, Airport, Civil Aviation and WHO.

During the briefing at the meeting, the chief minister was told that the number of Coronavirus-infected cases in Sindh has reached to 410 in which 143 were of Karachi, 265 Zaireen and two of other districts. The alarm bells were rung when it was found that the number of local transmissions in Karachi has reached 91 which was seen as ominous. The chief minister was told that 4,041 samples, including 2,443 of Karachi, 168 of other districts and 1,430 of pilgrims were tested. The result shows that 143 from Karachi, two of other districts and 265 Zaireen were diagnosed as positive. Some 485 results, including 83 of Karachi, 93 of other districts and 309 of pilgrims are pending. It may be noted that 796 patients are under treatment at Sukkur-1, 303 Sukkur -II, 83 Larkana, 98 at Malir and 104 in home isolation.

On the instruction of the chief minister, the health department has started the corona-case mapping. The map shows that three cases are in Gadap, 15 in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, 9 Gulberg, nine in Jamshed Town, seven in Liaquatabad, four in malir, 10 Nazimabad, three in North Karachi, one in Orangi, 41 in Saddar Town. In this way out of 143 cases, the mapping of 122 cases was prepared. The chief minister directed the health department to share the mapping data with deputy commissioners for necessary measures to contain it within the limited areas. According to the daily report presented to the chief minister, Sindh government hospitals have reported 1,874 pneumonia cases, of them 251 were tested while the private hospitals reported 702 cases and 21 of them have also been tested. The chief minister in his last meeting had directed the health departments to improve sampling arrangements. The health department told the chief minister that 18 mobile clinic vehicles of Indus hospital were available to collect the samples.

Once again the chief minister called for making the lockdown stricter. “People are still moving here and there without any restriction which would defeat the whole objective of the exercise,” he said. Shah directed IG Sindh to adopt strict measures making the lockdown stricter and do not allow people to roam around in the city.

Meanwhile, the chief minister was told that the Wuhan institute of Virology, China, has prepared a machine for testing samples of COVID-19. The machine accepts the throat swabs against the prevailing practice of nasal swabs.

Shah directed his principal secretary to sit with Dr Faisal and Dr Bari and discuss and decide whether the machine was fit for use in Pakistani conditions. “If the decision is taken in favour of procuring the machine then we must immediately place an order for 100 machines,” he directed and said he would request the federal government to fly a special plane to China to transport the machines for Sindh.

Meanwhile, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa continued to report positive cases of the COVID-19 and on Tuesday 40 patients tested positive for the fast-travelling coronavirus, raising the total number of such cases to 78 in the province.

It was the highest number of positive cases KP reported in a single day.

According to officials, among the new positive cases, 37 belong to Dera Ismail Khan, two from Peshawar and one from South Waziristan tribal district.

It was the second positive COVID-19 case from the tribal districts. Khyber was the first tribal district that had reported the initial coronavirus case.

The authorities had sent swab of 241 patients presently quarantined in the Gomal Medical College in Dera Ismail Khan to the Khyber Medical University Peshawar. Of them, 37 were tested positive for the coronavirus and 29 suspected patients tested negative.

All of them had returned from Iran via Taftan in Balochistan where they were quarantined allegedly in poor manners.