Four new coronavirus cases confirmed, K-P toll rises to 23

Mardan district locks down UC to which 50-year-old victim belonged, curfew-like restrictions imposed

​ Our Correspondents March 20, 2020
PESHAWAR/ MARDAN: The provincial health department on Thursday said that four new cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have been confirmed in the province.

The provincial government Thursday moved to lock down the union council where one of the first casualties from the virus were reported in the country.

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Health Department in a statement on microblogging social network Twitter said on Thursday that out of the four new cases confirmed, two patients had a history of foreign travel while one was a relative of a confirmed coronavirus patient.

The last patient had no travel history or known contact with a coronavirus patient.

“Total confirmed coronavirus patients in K-P are 23 now,” the statement read.

The health department, however, rejected rumours that doctors who had diagnosed and treated the coronavirus patient in Mardan were now infected with the virus.

In a video message shared by the health department on its Twitter account, Mardan District Headquarters Hospital Medical Superintendent Basit Saleem said that he has spoken to all doctors who had treated coronavirus patients and they were in good health and high spirits.

Wazir dispels case spike

Adviser to the Chief Minister on Information and Public Relations Ajmal Wazir on Thursday rejected reports about 15 new coronavirus cases being confirmed in the province, clarifying that after four new cases were confirmed, the toll has climbed to 23 while another 92 are suspected of being infected with the virus. They have been tested and the results of 43 patients are awaited.

Speaking to media at the information department, the adviser said the new confirmed cases have been reported from the Mansehra, Khyber, and Buner districts.

Mardan’s Manga UC sealed

Meanwhile, the Mardan district administration on Thursday declared an emergency in and locked down the Manga Union Council — the native area of the deceased COVID-19 patient Saadat Khan.

A notification issued by the district administration said that the UC has been locked down with no one allowed to either enter or exit the UC.

It added that the decision has been taken in the larger interest of public safety as several people met with the deceased when he returned to the country after performing Umrah in Saudi Arabia.

However, locals told The Express Tribune that despite the strict measures adopted by the district administration, they have yet to host a visit from medical personnel, nor has the area been disinfected

Meanwhile, the deceased was buried in the UC with tight safety measures. His family has been shifted to the Mardan Medical Complex where their nasopharyngeal swabs were taken for the COVID-19 test.

Saadat, in a video before his death, had complained of fever, throat infection and problems in breathing – including shortness of breath, accompanied by chest pain.

Gomal doctors protest

Doctors and other medical staff at the Gomal Medical College on Thursday protested against the lack of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for doctors. A senior doctor of the health facility, while requesting anonymity, said that safety of the healthcare staff was crucial in such a situation so that they could perform duties without getting sick.

K-P govt closes 23 depts

The provincial government on Thursday closed at least 23 public sector departments in the Civil Secretariat with immediate effect in the wake of coronavirus threat.

A statement said that only nine departments including health, home, finance, rehabilitation, administrative, food, agriculture and elementary and secondary education and planning would remain open in the public interest. 

Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2020.


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