Overseas Pakistanis allowed taking back bodies of coronavirus victims 36,717 affectees, highest number in Punjab, 788 deaths

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Nation special report

RAWALPINDI: Realising the difficult heart-shaking situation being faced by overseas Pakistan in burial of their loved ones in wake of deadly coronavirus, Pakistan government has granted permission to them to bring the bodies of Covid-19 victims home but after strictly following the guidelines issued by the health ministry and Civil Aviation Authority to avoid the spread of infections.

Aviation Division’s spokesman Abdul Sattar Khokhar has said that the government had allowed the overseas Pakistanis to bring the bodies of Covid-19 victims back home but after following the guidelines of the Ministry of National Health Services Regul­ations and Coordination.

In an interview with Dawn, when asked how many Pakistani expatriates had contacted the embassies concerned for shifting of the body of their family member or friend to Pakistan so far, he said: “Though no such body has been airlifted to Pakistan from abroad so far, two requests for shifting of Covid-19 deceased have been made from France and Barcelona.”

He explained in detail that the body should be enclosed in a sealed coffin in compliance with the airlines’s rules and regulations. Under the guidelines, anyone coming in contact with the body must ensure the standard preventive measures, including hand washing and disinfection pre- and post-interaction with the body.

Minimum number of staff should be involved in handling and transferring of the body and they should wear appropriate personal protective equipment, long-sleeved fluid resistant gown, gloves, face shield or goggles, N95 mask and boots.

The environmental surfaces or waiting rooms where the body was kept before transferring to the aircraft should be disinfected and cleaned properly. While air transporting, the body should be wrapped in two clothes soaked in 10 per cent formalin solution.

Coronavirus cases

The nationwide tally of coronavirus has soared to 36,717 with 1,140 new cases reported during the last twenty-four hours.    

13,561 cases have so far been detected in Punjab, 14,099 in Sindh, 5,423 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 2,239 in Balochistan, 482 in Gilgit Baltistan, 822 in Islamabad and 91 in Azad Kashmir. 9,695 patients have so far recovered from the virus whilst the death toll stands at 788.

1,000 new cases daily

A surge in coronavirus affectees is witnessed with easing lockdown restrictions in Pakistan and it  has been recording 1,000 new coronavirus cases on average daily, states the World Health Organization (WHO) in its daily situation report about the disease in the country.

The WHO report, dated May 6, finds that the number cases reported per day has risen to 1,000 on average this week in Pakistan, doubling since mid-April.

On Wednesday, Pakistan recorded 1,523 new cases across the country, it highest single day tally to date. In the meantime, testing has also been ramped up, especially in the Punjab province. On Wednesday, Pakistan carried out over 12,000 tests.

As per the WHO report, the highest case density is reported from Gilgit Baltistan, followed by Islamabad and Sindh.

Comparing the testing numbers of each province and the federating units, the report notes that Islamabad has the highest testing per million of its population, followed by Gilgit Baltistan, Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Majority of the country’s case fatalities have been reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, according to the situation report.

Moreover, 84% of the confirmed cases are between the ages of 20 and 64 years, while the highest mortality rate, 74%, is amongst the age bracket of 50-79 years.