COVID-19: ‘home lockdown’ in GB from today

Herald Report



As Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) records the first casualty of COVID-19, the most contagious virus, and a spike of cases, the regional government ramps up its efforts to contain the virus.

Usama Riaz, a young doctor, died on Sunday after contracting the virus during the screening of pilgrims at Jaglot camp on March 3. He was pronounced dead after remaining on the ventilator for 20 days, official told The High Asia Herald.

“There is no other option except to adopt social distancing to contain the spread of the virus and minimize its impact on the people”, Chief Minister Hafeezur Rahman said in a video message to the 2 million people of the region late Sunday night, announcing the imposition of ‘home lockdown’ in the mountainous region to contain the spread of the virus.

We have called paramilitary forces in aid of civilian administration to strictly enforce the home lockdown plan to save every person — aged, the poor and children — from getting infected by the virus, the CM said. He clarified that it is not a curfew as the region had experienced some times back to ward off sectarian violence but to protect people from a pandemic.

According to him, the lockdown will be imposed across GB to contain the global pandemic that has spread in over 143 countries affecting over 300,000 people and taking over 12,000 lives.

He urged the people to cooperate with the government and law enforcers in fighting the scourge.

The army troops have also been kept standby to help the law enforcement personnel if needed in implementing the plan, the CM said.

During the lockdown, he said, the supply chain of essential commodities will not be disrupted. Grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential services will remain open, he added.

However, intra-district transport and non-essential goods’ shops will remain closed, the chief minister said.

All resources and manpower will be used to contain the virus, he said. All retired doctors and paramedics have been called out for performing duties.

Giving details about the latest figures, CM Rehman said we have achieved 75 percent results by adopting various measures and the rest of 25 percent will be achieved through the home lockdown.

All the pilgrims have reached back from Iran and we have quarantined them in 350 rooms for the screening and test.

In all, 315 samples were sent to the National Institute of Health at Islamabad and District Headquarters (DHQ) hospital Gilgit. Of them, according to the CM, 71 have been confirmed positive for coronavirus and 143 have tested negative. The patients have been shifted to 152 isolation wards for medication. We have set up cells to prepare best diet plans for the patient.

He said 101 results are still awaited. Giving district-wise break down of the patients, CM Rehman said 28 are from Skardu District, 3 from Shigar, 1 from Kharmang, 12 from Gilgit District, 13 from Nagar and one from Astor.

The chief minister said six ventilators five in Gilgit and one is in Skardu are available.

We have sanctioned Rs200m for procurement of 11 more ventilators but the equipment is short in supply in the world market, the CM said.

He said that he had spoken to the Xinjiang governor who had assured to provide masks, gloves, and other essential equipment.

Mr Rehman showered tribute on doctors and paramedics “who are fighting the pandemic on the frontline, they are our heroes and we have declared Dr Usama Riaz as a national hero. He assured that they will be provided with the necessary equipment and protective wear.

Earlier on Sunday, law minister Raja Aurangzeb Khan and other officials shared at a news conference the details of the plan with local media.

The minister said that complete home lockdown will come into force from Monday midnight for an indefinite period.

Personnel of police and Rangers will be on patrolling day and night,” the minister said.

The G-B government media adviser Shams Mir said that police and Rangers will have the power to arrest any person who violates the lockdown.

He said of the total infected people, 16 had contracted the virus from pilgrims returning from Iran,” he added.

A day earlier, the G-B government imposed Section 144 to discourage the public, social and religious gatherings and congregations, festivals, sports events

It had already closed all educational institutions and has decided to suspend inter-district public transport from Monday.

Coronavirus cases

Pakistan on Sunday shut down markets and public places in several major cities amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The number of coronavirus cases has risen to 629 with 296 cases reported in Sindh, 139 in Punjab, 103 in Balochistan, 31 in KP, and 10 in Islamabad.

Pakistan suspended on Saturday all international flights for two weeks to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Five people have lost their lives to the virus in the GB, KP, and Sindh.

A total of 12,592 people died, most of them in Europe (7,199) and Asia (3,459).

With 4,825 deaths, Italy has a higher toll than even China (3,255) where the outbreak began late last year.

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