JHELUM: Even after the enforcement of a complete lockdown across the province to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the mishandling of bodies infected with the virus remains a source of concern. Due to the laxity of the administration and the health department as well as of the people, an entire village in Jhelum district was sealed on Wednesday as officials feared that it could become a new cluster for Covid-19 patients.
Local sources told The Express Tribune that the social distancing rule was overlooked during the funeral of Captain (retd) Shahida Bibi, who was buried in her native village of Sohawa on Wednesday.
The deceased had recently returned from the UK to Pakistan on March 9 along with her husband and nephew and moved to her native village of Akra Mora in the Sohawa area of Jhelum, where they attended the funeral of a relative.
Soon after, Shahida complained of feeling sick. She was taken to a hospital in Rawalpindi for treatment. There, doctors suspected that she could be a Covid-19 patient and collected samples from all three family members for subsequent testing.
While the test results were still being compiled, Shahidha succumbed to the disease.
As per local customs, her extended family and the local community participated in her funeral. However, not everyone abided by the social distancing rule as relatives and locals hugged members of the deceased’s family to express their condolence.
Later, test reports confirmed that Shahida, her husband and nephew were infected with the coronavirus.
Officials traced all those who had attended the funeral and forced them all to a quarantine centre in Sohawa.
The village was later sealed while residents of all neighbouring villages were also screened.
Akra Mora locals expressed their displeasure at the laxity of the administration and the health department and said that they did not act promptly even though symptomatic family had arrived from abroad.
“There are still so many families in the village who have returned to Pakistan from different parts of the world during the pandemic,” they said, asserting that the district administration had failed to conduct adequate screening of all such arrivals.
Sohawa tehsil has a population of 201,948.
First Covid-19 case confirmed in Attock
The first case of Covid-19 has been confirmed in the Attock district. Swab samples from a female patient from the Gharibwal village in Pindigheb Tehsil of Attock tested positive on Wednesday.
The woman had returned from Saudi Arabia on March 15 after performing Umra. She had been admitted to the Tehsil Headquarters Hospital (THQ) in Pindigheb along with her husband, both of whom were displaying symptoms of the viral disease.
Their swab samples were dispatched to the National Institute of Health for verification from where the test results of the lady were found to be positive. Curiously, the samples of her husband tested as negative.
After her test came back as negative, the woman was shifted to the isolation ward at the Attock District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ).
Pindigheb Deputy District Health Officer Manzoor Hussain said that around 17 people hailing from the Gharibwal village had returned from Saudi Arabia after performing Umrah. However, none of them was kept in quarantine and that they may now pose a great threat to the area.
He said that Gharibwal village has now been cordoned off with all entry and exit points sealed, while all residents of Gharibwal and the nearby village of Dhulian are being screened.
The Pindigheb Tehsil has a population of 271,594.
50 arrested for gathering in groups
Attock police on Wednesday arrested 50 people, including two grooms, for violating Section 144 imposed in the district as a precautionary measure against the spread of Covid-19.
The Hassanabdal police arrested a groom, Wali Muhammad for arranging a wedding.
In separate raids in various parts of the city, the police arrested 24 shopkeepers for opening their workplaces. Those who were arrested included block manufacturing unit owners, tailors, car dealers, paint shop owners and tent service owners.
In Jand, police booked 14 people, including four cattle dealers for organising cattle markets in the Domial area.
Moreover, the Wah Cantonment police booked a groom, identified as Shahjehan, and two others including Rizwan and Nasir, for organising a wedding.
Seven hotel owners identified as Waseem, Khalid, Sher Mohammad, Shahbaz, Shahid, Sabir and Mehmood, were also arrested by the same police for opening their hotels.
WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM DNA
Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2020.