Carefree citizens put KP on top in corona cases
By Afzal Hussain Bokhari
Coronavirus is being described as the invisible enemy. Visible or invisible, an enemy is after all an enemy. Its purpose is to destroy the opponent mentally, physically and economically. 2020 will go down in history as a memorable year. A man-made virus has brought the entire humanity to its knees and that too in a short span of just three to four months. The economy of world’s richest country (USA) is on the verge of collapse. Ships, airplanes, trains and buses have come to a grinding halt. In the midst of all this chaos, forces of obscurantism and rationalism are pitted eyeball to eyeball.
On the one hand, top scientists and medical experts are shouting hoarse to make lockdowns more effective. On the other hand, there are scions of business class. They are no experts on virology or epidemiology. All the same, they are dishing out inanities which are not even laughable. Day in and day out, one can see this happening in Washington, London, Tel Aviv, Delhi and even Islamabad. President Donald Trump of the United States is at war with some state governors who refuse to accept his non-scientific and ever-changing stance on coronavirus.
Britain’s PM Boris Johnson had a miraculous escape from Covid-19. Last week he was still under observation, when he decided to address journalists in the much-awaited “Meet the Press” show. However, at the eleventh hour he chose to miss out on the waiting paparazzi. Instead he flippantly preferred to go into his official residence (10 Downing Street). This was done to receive greetings on the birth of a baby son from his fiancée Carrie Symonds. Television viewers blinked in disbelief at his priorities.
In India, PM Narendra Modi paid just lip-service to coronavirus. Behind the Covid-19 smokescreen, he remained busy with horse-trading to turn the tables on Congress Party led by the Sonia-Rahul-Priyanka trio. Scene in Islamabad was not any different. With Special Assistant Dr Mohammad Shahbaz Gill and new Information Minister Senator Shibli Faraz at his back, PM Imran Khan peered out of television screens to champion the cause of the daily wagers. The PM and Dr Sania Nishtar took turns in giving out the figures of funds allocated for the deserving widows.
This went side by side with the familiar tirade against PML-N’s Shahbaz Sharif, PPP’s Bilawal Bhutto and the Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah. Visibly missing in the dominant narrative was probably the seriousness about coronavirus along with the immediate plans to fight the pandemic. Reports indicated that coronavirus had infected people in 33 out of a total of 35 KP districts. Sudden increase of corona cases became talk of the town. The lead headline of our sister publication, the daily Mashriq, on Sunday said that as many as 14 women doctors in Peshawar’s oldest Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) had been reported sick with coronavirus.
KP Health Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra did not deny this but gave possible reasons for the upsurge. He was speaking by phone on Hum news television channel’s show “Breaking point with Mohammad Malick” on second of May (repeat telecast on Sunday, third of May). Other guest speakers on Malick show included Sindh Health Minister Nasir Hussain Shah and Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid.
Panic gripped LRH when its Gynecology Ward was said to be the most infected of all hospital wards. Doctors’ Association demanded that no new patients be admitted before the eternally crowded ward was thoroughly disinfected.
Corona scare was not restricted to LRH alone. In Sifwat Ghayyur Children’s Hospital, 11 health workers got infected. Laboratory reports were being awaited after which the hospital might face a likely closure. Although mere announcements do not change the situation yet taking notice of slow pace of work in health centres, CM Mahmood Khan said that daily corona testing capacity of a hospital be increased from 40 to 1500.
Developing stories of coronavirus carried the essential element of human interest. For example, in one incident, the burial of a woman corona victim took an ugly turn. Municipal staff of Water and Sanitation Services Peshawar (WSSP) was about to lower the dead body into the grave when mourners insisted on having a look at her face. As plastic cover was removed from victim’s face, the family members noticed that the dead body was not properly covered by any sheet of white cloth (shroud). Mourners became furious, resorted to violence and beat up the WSSP men. Officials of WSSP clarified that they were only supposed to prepare the grave and bury the dead person. They added that responsibility for bathing the dead body and providing the shroud lay with the hospital.
What added to corona sadness was the news of how the residents of the former tribal belt mourned the death of Arif Wazir, a leader of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM). He breathed his last in Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Islamabad on second of May. According to details, he was taking a walk outside his home in village Ghwa Khwa near Wana, South Waziristan, on first of May, when 10 minutes before Iftar he came under fire from men riding a white car. In a wounded condition, he was taken first to District Headquarters Hospital in Wana, then to Dera Ismail Khan but ultimately to PIMS. Officials at PIMS told newsmen that Arif Wazir was brought with bullet injuries in his head at 6:30am on second of May. A team of surgeons operated upon him. He was kept in the Surgical ICU Ward, where he expired at 10:30am.
Dr Waseem Khwaja of PIMS said that an autopsy was performed on Arif’s body. Dr Khwaja added that Arif also suffered from kidney ailment. Arif’s mortal remains were taken back to his village for burial. He left behind a widow, two sons and three daughters. He was the first cousin of Ali Wazir, MNA. In elections, Arif was a candidate for the provincial assembly seat. Police in Wana said that an FIR had been lodged against the unknown attackers. He had been in jail for using inappropriate language against the state in public meetings of PTM. He also visited Afghanistan, when President Ashraf Ghani won the elections.