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Exponential growth in coronavirus cases in 18 days: Sindh CM

Top Story

April 4, 2020

LAHORE/KARACHI/PESHAWAR: As many as 109 participants of Tableeghi Ijtima and three prisoners were confirmed as Covid-19 positive among a total of 149 new infections in Punjab on Friday, pushing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,069.

The number of cases in Raiwind jumped to 251 on Friday from Thursday’s 142 as the victims were believed to be among the participants in annual Tableeghi Ijtima, quarantined in Raiwind, following a spike in cases in Punjab.

Besides, three new infections have been confirmed among prisoners at the Camp Jail, Lahore, which caused a new scare as prisons are dubbed the potential hotspot of spread of novel coronavirus.

In Punjab, 563 patients have been kept at quarantine centres in Lahore, Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Faisalabad, while another 506 are new infections among local population in the province.

Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid said so far 17,069 suspected patients have been tested for coronavirus from public sector and private laboratories. Out of these, 1,012 have been tested positive for Covid-19.

Giving the break-up, the minister said the government sector had conducted 9,757 tests including 4,039 at Health Department's Lab, 500 at Nishtar Hospital Multan, 2,238 tests by SKMCH Lab for the government and 2,980 tests are conducted at NIH Lab Islamabad. The private sector labs have conducted 7,312 tests for Covid-19 of those, who could afford.

No fatality due to coronavirus was reported on Friday; therefore, the figure of casualties due to Covid-19 remained at 11 in Punjab so far including five in Lahore, four in Rawalpindi and one each in Faisalabad and Rahim Yar Khan. Six patients have also been sent home after complete recovery.

As per Corona Monitoring Room at Primary and Secondary Healthcare (P&SH) Department, a total of 563 corona patients, who are pilgrims returning from Iran, are under treatment at quarantine facilities including 251 in Raiwind, 213 in Dera Ghazi Khan, 91 in Multan and five in Faisalabad. As many as 210 patients were under treatment in Lahore, 95 in Gujrat, 55 in Rawalpindi, 29 in Jhelum, 19 in Vehari, 15 in Gujranwala, 14 in Mandi Bahauddin, 13 in Nankana Sahib, 10 in Sargodha, nine in Faisalabad, five each in DG Khan, Rahim Yar Khan and Hafizabad, three each in Mianwali and Bahawalnagar, two each in Multan, Bahawalpur, Lodhran, Sialkot and Narowal and one each in Attock, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Layyah, Chiniot and Khushab.

Meanwhile, Young Doctors Association (YDA) Punjab has demanded immediate closure of Out-Patients Departments (OPDs) in view of rising number of Covid-19 cases in Punjab.

In a statement, YDA Punjab President Dr Salman Haseeb Chaudhry said the Sindh government had announced closure of OPDs in Malir with effect from Saturday (today) as a necessary measure to stop the spread of virus among other patients and visitors in outdoor wards in public and private hospitals.

Meanwhile, the Sindh government Friday requested the federal authorities for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and testing kits, as three more persons died due to pneumonia caused by the coronavirus, including two in Karachi and one in Hyderabad, raising the total number of deaths to 14 in Sindh.

“Two more deaths have been confirmed due to coronavirus in Karachi today. The patients were 82 and 60 years old respectively. Both patients were tested positive on 1st April and were cases of local transmission. The 60-year-old patient had heart problems and was on ventilator whereas the 82-year-old patient had renal problems," Sindh Health Minister Dr. Azra Pechuho announced on Friday.

The health minister said a 54-year-old patient had also died in Hyderabad, who was tested positive on 3rd April and was a case of local transmission.

The patient had a neurological disorder, which affected his immune system. This brings the total number of deaths in Sindh to 14, the health minister added.

Expressing his concern over the growing number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the Sindh province, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said during the last 18 days, 87-fold rise had been recorded in coronavirus cases. “This is alarming and the pandemic needs more focused and collective efforts to control the situation."

He said this while participating in the prime minister’s meeting through a video link from the CM House. The chief minister said there were 783 cases reported till afternoon of April 3.

Shah said his government was facing a shortage of Personal Protective equipment (PPEs) and testing kits. “The medical professionals working in isolation centers and in hospitals must be clad in PPEs to avoid infection risk,” he said, adding, “The PPEs available with the provincial government are running out, therefore, more PPEs are required.” At this, the DG MPDA said he had sent the PPEs to Sindh and if they had been used, he would arrange more kits. The chief minister said the testing kits provided by the PDMA had some accuracy issues, as had been pointed out by the experts working with the Sindh government; therefore, they are not being used. The prime minister directed the PDMA to coordinate with the provincial government and resolve the issues of kits. The meeting was told that till the afternoon of April 3, 783 cases of coronavirus had been detected.

Out of 783 cases, 342 cases are in 151 in Hyderabad, 273 in Sukkur, seven in Larkana, two in Ghotki, one in Jacobabad, one in Dadu and six in Shaheed Benazirabad.

Thalassemia patients: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has directed the health department to issue necessary instructions to the regional blood banks to provide blood for Thalassemia patients. “I am worried about the patients, particularly the children,” he said and added they must be administered blood as per schedule. The minister health assured the chief minister that she was issuing directives to RBCs for giving blood for Thalassemia patients.

As many as 1,048 people were held in Peshawar for violation of the lockdown in the last two weeks while eight cases were registered against 10 prayer leaders for not complying with the orders regarding social distancing on Friday.

The lockdown has been further tightened. More roads of the city have been blocked by placing barbed wire. Around 3,000 policemen along with traffic cops and soldiers are deployed in different parts of Peshawar to ensure the lockdown in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

"We have registered over 500 cases and arrested 1,048 people for violation of the lockdown since February 22. More steps are being taken across the provincial capital to ensure that people remain at home and don't come out unless there is urgency," Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Operations Zahoor Babar Afridi told The News.

He added that the arrested people have been charged under different sections of law. Special teams of the district administration, army and police have been formed to visit various parts of Peshawar to ensure implementation of the lockdown. On Friday, police officers made announcements from their official cars and loudspeakers of mosques asking the people to remain at home.

The officers also held meetings with the religious scholars to seek their help in asking public to offer prayers at home.

"Our officers went to mosques in their areas and sought the help of the prayers leaders in ensuring social distancing to fight coronavirus. Eight cases were registered in Hayatabad, University Town, Tehkal and Agha Mir Jani Shah against prayer leaders for violations," said the SSP.

He maintained that the police have fully ensured the decision regarding lockdown. He said there were some violations and the police apprehended the clerics and took affidavit from them. There were rumours about an incident in Mathra village near Peshawar on Thursday night as people on the social media linked a firing incident with the decision of the government not to allow the Friday prayers amid the Covid-19 crisis. The posts said four people were killed and four were others were injured on the issue of Friday prayers in Zareef Koroona in Mathra.

Later, police officers said no firing happened on the issue of Friday prayers in Peshawar. According to Superintendent of Police Rural, Najmul Husnain one party attacked a house in Mathra Thursday night, resulting in death of four people and injuries to four others of the same family.

He explained that the two parties had some altercation over the issue of a religious gathering in the mosque on Wednesday. The official said raids were being conducted to arrest the accused brothers and their accomplices.

During the lockdown, meanwhile, the Traffic Police have issued ticket to many vehicles for violation. According to SSP Traffic Waseem Ahmad Khalil, 532 vehicles have been impounded during the action against vehicles violating the lockdown.

The Traffic Police is also running an awareness campaign in the city and on the highways to educate the drivers about the threat of coronavirus. Deputy Inspector General of Police Traffic, Mohammad Karim Khan along with his officers met the traffic sergeants on Kohat Road and other highways and directed them to ensure action against the drivers who were not complying with the directives of the government to prevent spread of coronavirus. The DIG Traffic was informed that 120 vehicles have been impounded and its passengers screened in their respective districts. The officials said 4,769 vehicles were also issued ticket on highways for traffic violations.


Note:

An earlier version of this story stated that the rise in the number of coronavirus cases was 87% over the past 18 days, when it is, in fact, 87-fold over the same period. The story has been updated to reflect the fact.