K-P reports second COVID-19 fatality

Published: March 18, 2020
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PHOTO: Reuters/FILE

PHOTO: Reuters/FILE

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has confirmed Pakistan’s first two COVID-19 deaths in Mardan and Peshawar, as total number of novel coronavirus infections, with five fresh cases in Punjab, rose to 299 in the country on Wednesday.

K-P CM’s Adviser on Information Ajmal Khan Wazir said the first deceased, a 50-year-old patient identified as Saadat Khan, had arrived from Saudi Arabia on March 9.

The deceased’s coronavirus test, he said, came positive yesterday (March 17). He hailed from Manga village, the adviser added.

The second patient, a 36-year-old man from Hangu, had arrived in the country from Turkey via Dubai, said Wazir. He was also tested positive yesterday, he added.

K-P Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra confirmed the two deaths on Twitter.

“Sadly, a second patient in LRH [Lady Reading Hospital] Peshawar, a 36-year-old, from Hangu, has also passed away, from coronavirus,” he wrote in a separate tweet later.

Jhagra also urged the masses not to indulge in social media debates as to which province beat the other in dealing with the coronavirus cases.

“There will be time to discuss which province beat the other. And to analyse every decision everyone has made. But today, none of that analysis will help the people of Pakistan do what they need to. Stay at home if you can. Protect the elderly. It’s time to show leadership,” he wrote.

Dr Zafar Mirza, the de facto national health minister, confirmed the first fatality from his official Twitter handle.

“With deep regret I confirm the death of first Pakistani due to #coronavirus. A 50-year-old male from Mardan recently returned from Umra, developed fever, cough & breathing difficulty and tested +ve for corona virus. Contacts are being screened. Our condolences to the family,” he wrote.

 

Earlier in the day, the Gilgit-Baltistan government had retracted report of a suspected coronavirus death.

The deadly pneumonia-like disease, which surfaced in China’s Hubei province late December 2019, has infected around 200,000 people globally with over nearly 8,000 deaths.

The G-B home secretary denied the death report after the government spokesperson Faizullah Faraq confirmed it, saying the patient belonged to Bunar area of Diamer district.

Faraq had said 13 COVID-19 patients are currently under treatment in the region.

The news came minutes after the state minister for health, Dr Zafar Mirza, tweeted that so far no death has been reported from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, in Pakistan.

“There is no COVID19 related reported deaths so far in Pakistan. Allhamdolillah,” he wrote on his official Twitter handle on Wednesday while giving updates on the virus situation in Pakistan.

Dr Mirza said there are 247 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan. According to a breakup given by him, Sindh has 183 cases, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 19, Balochistan, 15, Gilgit-Baltistan, 13, Punjab, 9, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), 7, and AJK, 1.

However, according to The Express Tribune tally, the total number of COVID-19 cases stands at 294 with 208 cases in Sindh while Punjab has 33, K-P reported 19, Balochistan has 23, Islamabad two, Gilgit-Baltistan 14 and none in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, meanwhile, confirmed five new coronavirus cases in the province, pushing the provincial tally to 33.

“I can confirm that there are 33 confirmed #COVID19 patients in Punjab. 20 Zaireen quarantined in DG Khan tested positive & have been shifted to hosiptal. 6 patients in Lahore, 5 in Multan and 2 in Gujrat are also under treatment. Best possible facilities r being provided to them,” he tweeted.

Spokesperson to Sindh CM Murtaza Wahab confirmed 27 new cases among pilgrims returned from Taftan border, raising the provincial tally to 208.

As of now, he said, there are 151 confirmed cases in Sukkur (all in Taftan- returned pilgrims), 56 in Karachi and one in Hyderabad.

No COVID-19 related death so far in Pakistan: Dr Mirza

Dr Mirza, in today’s statement, said, “The federal govt, the provinces and all stakeholders are working on a war footing for safety & well-being of the people of Pakistan… all resources are mobilised and measures taken for prevention and mitigation.”

A day earlier, the Punjab government denied the first reported fatality of the novel coronavirus in Pakistan and urged people to “act responsibility during the testing times”.

“We have received test reports of Imran Ali, who lost his life in Mayo Hospital, and his cause of death was not COVID19. I urge everyone that these are testing times & we should act responsibly..,” Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said in a tweet from his official handle.

The death was announced on a web portal the federal health ministry launched on Monday to keep a track of the spread of the virus. The deceased patient was under treatment in Lahore.

Authorities in Pakistan have screened over 1,015,900 travellers since the virus was first detected in the country. At least 20,088 travellers have been screened in the last 24 hours.

Varying stats

The varying stats paint a dismissal picture of coordination between the federal and provincial governments. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s address to the nation late Tuesday paid a tribute to the Balochistan government and Pakistan Army officials for their part in containing the virus at the Taftan border.

However, Sindh government has come out criticising Centre for lack of foresight in quarantine arrangements in Taftan where over 9,000 pilgrims returning from Iran had been quarantined by the Balochistan government in a ‘tent city’.

After completing the 14-day incubation period, the pilgrims were allowed to travel back to their cities. However, Sindh and K-P sent the pilgrims to isolation facilities in Sukkur and Dera Ismail Khan and tested them before allowing further travel. So far 134 pilgrims tested positive in Sindh and another 15 in K-P.

The federal government maintained that health was a provincial matter under the 18th Amendment however Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) argued that border management falls under Centre’s domain.

Preventive measures

In its March 13 National Security Committee meeting, Centre formed a Novel Coronavirus Core Committee with daily meetings between federal and provincial authorities.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government tasked National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to coordinate with provincial governments and lead the fight against novel coronavirus.

The federal government also decided to ban public gatherings, close all educational institutions until April 5 and cancel Pakistan Day parade on March 23. It also sealed borders and limited international flights operations to Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.

However, the NSC decision on international travel was taken back on Tuesday when the government lifted restrictions on all airports except Gwadar and Turbat.

In Sindh, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government edged towards lockdown after it closed all restaurants, malls, shopping centres and imposed Section 144. Only grocery stores and pharmacies have been allowed to operate.

Sindh also changed its academic year dates after preponing summer vacations and shut down all goverment offices across the province.

Punjab banned all public gatherings under Section 144 of the CrPc.

Balochistan government banned public gatherings, suspended biometric attendance, limited activities and closed educational institutions.

K-P also banned public gatherings, closed educational institutions and directed police to ensure people were not arranging private events.

Follow The Express Tribune‘s live coverage of the Covid-19 outbreak in Pakistan and the around the globe here.

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