Punjab Govt Accused Of Hiding More Than 20 Coronavirus Deaths
The Punjab government has been accused of deliberately concealing the actual number of coronavirus cases in the province. Sources from various hospitals of Punjab have told Naya Daur that the Punjab government has hidden more than 20 deaths from the virus which took place in the early and middle days of the outbreak.
According to sources, the deaths were kept hidden from public because reporting the actual number would have negated the anti-lockdown stance that the federal government and Prime Minister Imran Khan had initially taken. A formal decision to hide the number of deaths was taken at a high-level meeting between the Punjab government and the bureaucracy.
A senior doctor at Mayo Hospital, who is aware of how the fatalities were concealed, told Naya Daur that the deaths occurred from March 20 to early April after the corona virus spread reached Punjab. These unreported deaths occurred in various hospitals in Punjab, but Mayo Hospital had the highest number of deaths. When the on-duty doctors tried to send these patients for tests, they were stopped by the higher authorities who created difficulties in the process and subsequently directed that the deceased be counted as the patients who died due to diabetes, cancer or hepatitis.
However, the doctors on duty succeeded in getting the test reports of the few patients who died from the coronavirus, and later tested positive, but the matter was not allowed to be made public. This was especially the case in Nishtar Hospital, Multan, against which most doctors have recorded their protest.
Sources pointed out that these were the days when Health Minister Yasmeen Rashid at a press conference confirmed the death of a patient admitted to Mayo Hospital from coronavirus, but soon withdrew and revealed other causes of his death. Sources at Mayo Hospital said that even today they are receiving 8 to 10 suspected patients of coronavirus every day who come in with shortness of breath and die in a short time before they are tested. The cause of death is later revealed as something other than the virus for hospital records.
Naya Daur has also been informed that the government data on the virus was suspicious. In Punjab, the focus of the media is on Lahore hospitals. The situation in Multan, Sargodha, Rawalpindi and DG Khan divisions is dire, while the government is trying to cover up and downplay the situation. He said that dozens of messages are received from doctors every day in which help is sought from medical organizations by telling the ground realities but nothing is happening.
The doctor of the General Hospital affiliated to the Grand Health Alliance said on condition of anonymity that the situation in other cities of Punjab besides Lahore is dismal. “A media representative should go to Rawalpindi to investigate the death of coronavirus patients that is being overlooked by the Punjab government. The biggest technical cover up is reported to have occurred there”, he said.
Those who come in with a complaint of shortness of breath and die early are being declared dead without any other reason or a test so that nothing can be proved later.
Sources said that what the government is calling test capability is actually sampling. Samples are being collected while the test capacity has not been increased at all. Due to this, it is taking 14 days for the test results to come out which is making the whole process suspicious.
Test results’ hard-copies not being provided
Meanwhile, health department sources, speaking to Naya Daur, pointed out that most patients are not being provided hard copies of reports. They are given the confirmation of a positive test over a phone call, after which the process of controlling the patient and his family begins. During this time, there have been a number of cases that have been officially declared corona positive, but after being quarantined, when they got tested in private labs, they were negative.
The famous case in this regard is that of senior TV journalist of City 42 Lahore, who was kept in quarantine for 3 days and when the second test report came, it was revealed that he did not have any virus. He said that when he contacted Health Secretary Captain (retd) Usman on the situation, he said that he did not know how it happened.
Overall, the Punjab government’s data does not conform to the WHO standards and would not be able to prove its legitimacy in any third party audit. The sources said that in the coming days, the Punjab government will try to record these hidden deaths by stating additional deaths so that the people of Punjab would see the death graph go up and down.
Naya Daur reached out to Health Minister Yasmeen Rashid and his spokesperson for a comment on the issue at hand, but there was no response.
The current number of deaths by the virus in Punjab has climbed up to 194, while the number of cases has reached more than 10,000.