Coronavirus claimed the life of a second person in the province on Monday, confirmed the daily situation report released by the Balochistan government.
According to details, the victim was identified as Ghulam Sarwar, 55, who hailed from Quetta. He had tested positive last week on April 4 and was placed on dialysis. His death occurred due to chronic renal failure after contracting the coronavirus.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in the province has touched 206 out of which 75 patients have recovered after completing their quarantine period and testing negative before being discharged from hospitals. It is pertinent to note that four new cases emerged in the province whereas 12 more patients recovered on April 7.
According to the provincial health directorate, 65 are locally transmitted cases out of the overall tally.
Earlier, during a cabinet meeting, Balochistan Chief Secretary Capt (retd) Fazeel Asghar informed the participants regarding distribution and purchase of health equipment including safety kits, N-95 masks, surgical masks and food.
However, while reviewing the matter of safety kits for doctors, the cabinet was informed that the government received a large number of safety kits which have been provided to doctors who are treating COVID-19 patients inisolation wards.
The cabinet members agreed to prioritise the safety of doctors and health staff treating coronavirus patients and lauded their services, urging protesting doctors to avoid inappropriate behavior and attempts to present other non-essential demands during a health crisis.
Chief Minister of Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan Aliyani asked the departments concerned to address the demands of Young Doctors Association. The cabinet thoroughly discussed the recent clash between them and the Police. “YDA has been demanding to confirm doctors working on a contract as permanent employees.
However, they have been provided with N95 masks and other safety equipment through PDMA Balochistan,” briefed the chief secretary.
The provincial finance department also presented its recommendation over the economic challenges being faced due to the pandemic and lockdown.
It is pertinent to mention that following the coronavirus crisis, the Balochistan Government suspended tax duties over medical equipment, 100 unit domestic use of electricity, Balochistan Infrastructure Development Sales on foreign non-interest loans and non-vehicle tax on public transport till June 2020.
The finance secretary told the cabinet that the provincial government has established Chief Minister Relief Fund with a worth of one billion rupees to battle thepandemic.Provincial ministers announced they will donate their salaries in the CM relief fund whereas CM Punjab Usman Buzdar alsopledged to donate one billion rupees into this fund.
The provincial cabinet also agreed to allocate Rs 3-4 billion for a provincial food package in order to handle any untoward situation arising in Balochistan apart from deciding to launch a small loan scheme for the youth with the support of Akhuwat Foundation.
Approving to fulfill vacant posts of doctors, paramedics and technicians across Balochistan, the cabinet directed health authorities to ensure the availability of isolation facilities and testing at international borders and inter-provincial entry points.
Addressing the cabinet meeting, CM Aliyani termed the coronavirus a challenge for them. “Unfortunately, we have a weak healthcare system and that’s why safety precautions are a vital tool against the spread of this virus.”
Corroborating the economic challenges Balochistan wouldface due to COVID-19, the chief minister said, the virus ruined global economies therefore we need to be mentally prepared to avert future’s challenges. “Despite having a lack of resources, the provincial government is boldly confronting this challenge,” he said expressing satisfaction over the recovery of 75 patients in Sheikh Zayed Hospital. “Being a Muslim we must believe in the powers of the Almighty Allah and should be steadfast because till today no one knows when the virus would be fully eliminated.”
On the other hand, the Balochistan government extended the lockdown till April 21, fearing the spread of coronavirus which could lead to “devastating consequences”, stated an official notification. In the communiqué, the home department cautioned that the spike in the number of COVID-19 cases could lead to more deaths and illnesses. So far, the province has reported over 200 cases with the number of locally transmitted cases crossing the 60 mark.
“Public is requested to follow the guidelines issued by the government and ensure that they don’t leave their home unless and until necessary,” read the notification. “It is mandatory to take all pragmatic and possible measures to contain and counter the further spread of the coronavirus on war footings.”