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Death toll from coronavirus climbs to 34 in Punjab


April 17, 2020

LAHORE/MULTAN/FAISALABAD: The death toll from the novel coronavirus climbed to 34 with six more casualties and confirmed cases reached 3,259 with the addition of 216 new cases from different districts of Punjab on Thursday.

Two patients died each in Lahore and Rawalpindi and one each in Gujrat and Toba Tek Singh. So far 14 patients have died in Lahore, nine in Rawalpindi, three in Multan, two each in Rahim Yar Khan and Gujrat and one each in Bahawalpur, Jhelum, Faisalabad and Toba Tek Singh.

As many as 13 COVID-19 patients are in a critical condition, while a total of 650 patients have so far recovered from coronavirus. They have been discharged after testing negative for the virus. More than 46,000 suspected patients have been screened so far out of which 3,259 have been tested positive for coronavirus. The Health Department would soon start community-level screening. More than 10,000 tests would be performed daily in various localities.

As many as 216 new COVID-19 patients were reported from across the province on Thursday, taking the number of confirmed cases to 3,259. From amongst new patients, 145 are members of Tableeghi Jamaat. Meanwhile, as many as five more healthcare providers including three doctors and two nurses at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology have been tested positive for the virus. They were shifted to the Isolation Ward of the Services Institute of Medical Sciences. According to reports, the district administration in consultation with the PIC administration has sealed the Junaid Surgical Ward of the PIC, while reports further suggest that at least 50 per cent staff of the hospital has been sent on leave. As per Young Doctors Association, so far more than 100 healthcare providers in the province have been affected while treating patients. The young doctors, nurses and paramedics, under the banner of the Grand Health Alliance staged a sit-in and hunger strike camp outside the office of the secretary Specialized Healthcare and Medical Education (SCH&ME) on Thursday against the government’s incompetence to make arrangements like personal protective equipment (PPEs) to protect the medical staff from contracting the virus. However, they assured that the healthcare services in hospitals to patients in general and Covid-19 patients in particular will continue without any interruption. They demanded status of a martyr for the staff nurse, Sadaf Jameel, who laid down her life while providing treatment to coronavirus patients in the Aziz Bhatti Shaheed Hospital in Gujrat.

Out of total confirmed Covid-19 patients, 1,236 are preachers of Tableeghi Jamaat, 701 pilgrims who recently returned from Iran, 91 prisoners in five districts and 1,204 citizens who either had travel history or fell victim to local transmission.

Of the 1,236 confirmed Covid-19 preachers, 577 are at a quarantine centre at Raiwind, 108 in Multan, 64 in Sargodha, 61 in Bhakar, 52 in Muzaffargarh, 45 in Rahim Yar Khan, 41 in Jhelum, 37 in Vehari, 35 in Hafizabad, 31 in Layyah, 19 each in Sialkot and Narowal, 17 in Mandi Bahauddin, 16 in Rawalpindi, 15 in Narowal, 14 in Gujrat, 13 in Bahawalnagar, 12 in Sheikhupura, 10 in Gujranwala, nine in Rajanpur, eight in Faisalabad, seven each in Mianwali and Sahiwal, two each in Nankana Sahib and Khushab.

Out of 701 confirmed patients from amongst pilgrims, 457 are at a quarantine centre in Multan, 221 in Dera Ghazi Khan and 23 in Faisalabad.

So far 1,204 citizens have been tested positive for the virus from across the province. These people either have a travel history or they got infected through local transmission. The highest number of cases has been reported from Lahore where 522 patients are under treatment at different centres.

As many as 142 patients are under treatment in Gujrat, 136 in Rawalpindi, 50 in Gujranwala, 42 in Rahim Yar Khan, 36 in Faisalabad, 35 in Vehari, 33 in Jhelum, 31 in Sialkot, 23 in Multan, 19 in DG Khan, 17 in Nankana Sahib, 14 in Sargodha, 12 each in Hafizabad and Mandi Bahauddin, 11 in Mianwali, 10 in Sheikhupura, nine in Kasur, eight each in Bahawalnagar and Chiniot, six in Bahawalpur, four each in Chakwal and Khushab, three in Lodhran, two each in Toba Tek Singh and Khanewal and one each in Attock, Pakpattan, Layyah, Okara and Jhang.

Out of 91 Covid-19 patients in jails, 59 were reported from Lahore, 14 from Sialkot, nine from DG Khan, seven from Gujranwala and two from Bhakkar. As many as 37 prisoners at an isolation centre at the Camp Jail have recovered from the virus. These have been shifted back to their cells. The Punjab Health Department has forwarded SOPs for handling of Covid-19 patients and saving other prisoners in jails to the Home Department.

Punjab Health Minister Dr. Yasmin Rashid on Thursday confirmed 37 prisoners in the Camp Jail, Lahore, tested negative, while another 12 Covid-19 patients have been discharged from different hospitals of Lahore. The minister said Principal Services Institute of Medical Institute Prof Mahmood Ayaz is looking after the patients in the hospital set up on the jail premises with his team of nurses and paramedical staff. “The recoveries of patients and their return to home is a positive development and we are hopeful that more people will be returning very soon in Punjab. The government is utilizing all available resources for the control of coronavirus in Punjab. I request all people to adopt social distancing and help us control the pandemic,” said the health minister.

Out of 12 Covid-19 patients recovered from the disease, as many as 10 have been discharged from the Mayo Hospital and two from the PKLI.

“From a total of 477 patients under treatment in Lahore, 143 have returned home,” the minister said, adding that the Punjab government has increased the testing capacity and conducted 2,669 tests in one day in all labs in the province. “In total, we have conducted over 46,000 tests. We are conducting daily review of cases and are monitoring the situation accordingly.”

“Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Minister Usman Buzdar are personally monitoring all efforts to control coronavirus in Punjab. With the increase in testing capacity, we will be able to improve the efforts to control the spread of the virus,” she added.

“Besides increasing the testing capacity, the measures are being put into place to enhance and maintain standards of tests as well,” the minister said while speaking at a video link conference at the Specialized Healthcare and Medical Education Department, chaired by Speaker Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi. The conference was attended by Law Minister Raja Basharat, political leaders, Secretary Specialized Healthcare and Medical Education Barrister Nabeel Awan and Secretary Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department Captain (retd) Usman Younis.

To increase the testing capacity and improve the standards of tests, the minister informed that more professionals are being hired for the labs. “All measures are being taken to ensure safety of staff working for the treatment of coronavirus patients,” she said, adding that the safety precautions for people coming to receive financial support as part of Ehsaas Programme are also being ensured.

Earlier, Secretary PSH Department Capt (retd) Usman Younis gave a briefing to the chair on the measures taken to control the corona pandemic. Pervaiz Elahi appreciated the measures of the government, especially those related to scaling up of the testing capacity.

Later, the minister responded to different questions of parliamentarians in the conference.

Meanwhile, five coronavirus patients including a doctor tested positive while two corona patients died at Multan’s Nishtar Hospital on Thursday, hospital doctors said. They told The News two corona patients including a woman died on Thursday. Both the male and female patients had been under observation for more than two weeks. The corona patient, Rizwana Rafique, was 38. She was a resident of Multan. The other patient identified as Bashir Ahmed was 65. He belonged to Dera Ghazi Khan.

When this scribe contacted Nishtar Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr Shahid Bukhari, he refused to talk or give details of the deaths. When contacted, Assistant Medical Superintendent Dr Irfan Malik said he has no knowledge about the deaths.

Religious scholar and Faisalabad Ameer of Tableeghi Jamaat Maulana Sohaib Roomi passed away after contracting coronavirus on Thursday. This is the second death caused by coronavirus in Faisalabad. Earlier, Zeeshan Ahmed of village Kamalpur had died of the virus.