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First Pakistani Victim Of Coronavirus May Have Infected Several People

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When Saadat Khan, 50, returned to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s city Mardan on March 9 from a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, he was greeted by 2,000 people in his village. Nine days later on March 18, Khan died at an isolation center in Mardan, the same day he tested positive for coronavirus.

According to a report by Jibran Ahmad published in Reuters, late Saadat Khan, in late February, flew to Saudi Arabia to visit the holy city of Makkah for Umrah. He entered the country just before it shut its borders to Umrah pilgrims, in a bid to stem the spread of Covid-19.

Khan stayed in Saudi Arabia for two to three weeks and departed from the kingdom’s Jeddah International Airport on March 8 via flight number PK736, which landed the following day at Peshawar International Airport.

The relatives of Khan told the news agency that he was already ill when he got on the plane and needed assistance on arrival in Pakistan. But despite Pakistan having identified its first confirmed cases of Covid-19 two weeks prior, Khan was only asked to fill out a form and did not undergo a medical screening at the Peshawar airport.

Then after arriving in his hometown in Mardan on March 9, he was welcomed by around 2,000 people. The virus carrier met with everyone and even hugged most of them on the occasion.

As days passed, Saadat Khan’s condition further deteriorated, after which he visited a district hospital close to his village on March 16, complaining of cough, fever and breathing issues. The doctor diagnosed him as a potential Covid-19 patient and had him tested for the virus. The sample was sent to Islamabad for testing.

While it is unclear if doctors had forced Khan into quarantine, the news agency claimed that he refused to be isolated. Instead, he went home, where he lived with his wife, three sons, two daughters-in-law, three daughters and four grandchildren.

Hospital officials say Khan returned on March 17, when his symptoms intensified. On March 18, test results confirmed he was infected with Covid-19, and he was moved to an isolation center, where he died the same day.

The local residents of Khan’s village have told Reuters that currently there is mass panic in the village, adding that no one had taken the coronavirus threat seriously prior to the death of Saadat Khan due to the deadly virus.

“There are hundreds of people believed to have been infected but they are hiding and reluctant to go to hospital,” said Liaqat Ali Shah, a local social worker.

The provincial government had declared the village of about 7,000 people a mass quarantine zone, and testing has begun. But residents of the village say none of the officials surveying the area have testing kits with them.

Despite this, four people who had tested positive for coronavirus, including two members of Khan’s family, are now missing and have gone underground, health officials told the news agency.

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Naya Daur