I am writing this letter with the utmost concern of the people of my hometown, DG Khan: the pandemic Corona virus which has been declared as the Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) by the World Health Organization (WHO). DG Khan, a city of 5,306 square miles and a population of 451,000, is located on the rampart of the Punjab and Balochistan. Recently, 780 suspected cases of Covid-19 have been reported by the government authorities in DG Khan, five of whom have been tested positive. Most of these infected people have a history of symptoms associated with the virus, and have returned from the Taftan (Pak-Iran) border who belong to various parts of Punjab.
It is beyond our understanding why the federal government chose DG Khan to establish a quarantine for the pilgrims especially when DG Khan itself lacks basic health facilities and technical and medical expertise. Although the officials have announced a high-alert caution, yet, the negligence of the authorities in rapid diagnosis, response to the cases, medical and technical expertise and supplies would substantially increase the spread of Covid-19 in DG Khan.
Doctors, at the so-called quarantine centers (“tents” in the grounds of Ghazi University, Mir Chakr Rind University and Agriculture University), have complained about the incomplete medical kit and lack of resources to efficiently treat the patients. Two of the respected doctors, Dr. Usama and Dr. Saba have been exposed to the virus and tested positive due to the lack of PPEs while screening of the suspected covid-2019 patients at the quarantine center.
In addition to this, a partially social lockdown has been imposed in the city which has severely affected the local businesses and markets. Majority of the people live below the poverty line and the government is yet to take any decision to provide and ration or supplies to these people. It is especially a challenge for us to contain the disease when the culture of hand-shaking and hugging continues due to the lack of awareness programs and sheer illiteracy.
I urge the local authorities, Punjab and Federal governments, WHO and all other medical and political organizations to please ponder over the special case of Covid-19 in DG Khan. They should play their part to run campaigns to make people aware of preventive measures. Medical and technical support to treat and contain this disease would improve the Public Health of the people DG khan. Funds, rations and financial support should be provided to masses especially the local businessmen. And, no pay deduction should apply to anybody in these unique circumstances. Last but not the least, the government should take the pilgrims from Taftan to more advanced hospitals and cities e.g. the Nishtar Hospital in Multan, which is not far either, and not make DG Khan the next Wuhan as it already lacks basic health abilities and the spread is inevitable.