Cases in Pakistan on the rise with first confirmed COVID death

Pakistan’s confirmed number of COVID-19 cases has reached 270, and the first related death – the most ominous record in South Asia.

Neighbouring countries, China and Iran, have been crippled by the recent pandemic – and it seems Pakistan awaits a similar fate. More than 60% of confirmed cases are those who were released from the Taftan Border (Iran-Balochistan). Travellers who were held here in ‘quarantine’ tents reported inadequate testing and lack of medications for pre-existing conditions & little access to clean water.

From Saturday 21 March, all passengers arriving into Pakistan on international flights must provide a copy of RT-PCR test results, obtained within 24 hours before boarding, indicating a negative result for COVID-19 – and will be subject to screening upon arrival.

Imran Khan addressed the nation yesterday, urging the public to ‘act responsibly’ as countries ‘with better facilities’ could not contain it. An inactive Public Health board coupled with limited health education is resulting in low levels of self isolation.

A health worker takes the temperature of a man who returned from Iran and is under medical observation, after Pakistan sealed its border with Iran as a preventive measure following the coronavirus outbreak, at the border post in Taftan, Pakistan February 25, 2020. REUTERS/Naseer Ahmed

Schools and universities are closed down, but with a frozen economy, Pakistan cannot afford to go into complete lockdown. Khan has implored the IMF to consider a debt write off for vulnerable countries now in a suffocating headlock due to the pandemic.

Pakistan must choose between dying two deaths – economic or civilian.