South Asia
Pakistan: COVID 19 outbreak leaves doctor dead, reports of 'dirty' condition of Taftan camps emerge

Bangladesh Live News | @banglalivenews | 24 Mar 2020

Islamabad: At a time when reports are emerging that PM Imran Khan-led government is failing to implement proper measures needed to fight Coronavirus in Pakistan, a doctor from Gilgit Baltistan, who was working to treat patients suffering from COVID 19, died due to the virus as the death toll in the nation touched six on Monday.

With over 800 patients infected, Pakistan is facing a shortage of ventilators at present, sources said.

A young physician, Dr Osama Riaz, became the first Pakistani doctor who died of coronavirus which he had contracted while physically handling suspected COVID-19 patients returning to Gilgit-Baltistan from overseas and other parts of Pakistan, reported The News International.

Dr Osama was part of 10-member team of the doctors tasked with screening patients returning from downtowns, particularly those arriving there from Iran via Taftan. He later started providing services to the suspected patients in isolation centres established for them in Gilgit, the newspaper said.

With reports of ineffective and unhygienic quarantine facility being setup at Taftan to isolate pilgrims returning from Coronavirus-hit Iran, 1000 more people are expected to reach the region fron neighbouring nation in the upcoming days, media reports said.

Iran is one of the badly hit nations by COVID19 outbreak in the world.

After the second session of the Anti-Corona Core Committee in the Civil Secretariat of Quetta, Chief Secretary Balochistan Captain (Retd) Fazeel Asghar has shared to Daily Times that the province is expecting another 1000 pilgrims from Iran to reach Taftan this week. The quarantine center in Taftan already houses 500 pilgrims who are completing their isolation period for Coronavirus potential. 

“They are all pilgrims from Iran and have been admitted in Quetta. There are 500 people in Taftan whereas 1,000 more people are expected to come from Iran and those who have not been diagnosed with the virus have been repatriated,” the Chief Secretary was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

The newspaper said Taftan, the border town with Iran, is in dire need of measures as the province has confirmed 104 Coronavirus cases in last three weeks – majority of whom are pilgrims.

Taftan camps: Ugly Truth

A British newspaper has reported recently quoting a person who stayed in one of them that the camps in Taftan, where the pilgrims returning from Iran to Pakistan are quarantined, is no better than a 'prison'.

The Guardian reported that according to Mohammed Bakir, who was held there for two weeks, it was no more than “a prison … the dirtiest place I have ever stayed in my life”. 

“These were the hardest days and nights of my life,” said Bakir. “We were treated like animals. There were no facilities but also no humanity and everything was in disarray. They were not prepared; there was nothing for us to sleep in except some dilapidated tents.”

Describing the condition of the camps, the British newspaper said:"The camp, in the town of Taftan in Balochistan province, was supposed to function as a sanitary quarantine location, preventing the spread of the coronavirus from Iran, which has had one of the worst outbreaks globally."

The newspaper reported that no proper precautionary measure was followed in the camps which was needed to prevent spread of COVID 19 in the country.

Thousands of people have been kept in close quarters in hot, squalid conditions in Taftan, with not even basic precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus. According to doctors at the camp, even those who presented with symptoms were not tested or even isolated, and there was a severe shortage of doctors and nurses, reported The Guardian.

The quarantined people even protested against the lack of medical facilities in the camps.

There was such a lack of medical facilities, the few doctors on site took to paying for necessary medicines themselves. Things got so bad that protests broke out among those quarantined, The Guardian said.

“Neither the quarantining service nor the testing procedure was satisfactory at all,” one doctor, who asked not to be named told The Guardian. “In the first 20 days, many people had symptoms, but there was no testing at all. We had no testing facilities for three weeks. One child was sent to [a] hospital in Quetta, and he tested positive. But there was no isolation or testing for anyone else."

“There were patients with diabetes, hepatitis and other diseases who were quarantined for 14 days without any proper medication. Their conditions were really bad there and they were treated like animals" the doctor said.

COVID19: Pakistani economy to bleed

The COVID 19 outbreak in the country is expected to leave Pakistan's economy in tough state as the country is expected to register a loss of Rs1.3 trillion in different sectors.

The preliminary assessment of losses done by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and shared with Pakistani authorities stood at $5 billion but Pakistan’s top official argued that these estimates were less than the expected actual losses because there was no basis for it, reported The News International.

“Work is under progress and the exact losses going to be faced by the national economy because of eruption of this virus will be firmed up by next week,” a top official of the PTI government disclosed to The News International after attending three important meetings, including Ministerial Committee constituted by PM Imran Khan, a high-powered meeting of different ministries and provinces and a meeting with international donors here at the P Block Auditorium on Thursday.

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