First doctor dies from coronavirus in Pakistan

First doctor dies from coronavirus in Pakistan

Commuters wearing facemasks as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus make their way past closed shops in Quetta on March 22, 2020. Credit: AFP Photo

A 26-year-old Pakistani doctor has become the country's first medic to die after contracting the novel coronavirus while treating the COVID-19 patients in Gilgit region of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, officials said on Monday.

Usma Riaz was treating the patients who recently returned from Iraq and Iran.

Pakistan, which borders Iran and China, two of the most affected countries by the deadly coronavirus, has reported five deaths and nearly 800 persons have been infected.

Riaz was part of a 10-member team of the doctors tasked with screening patients returning from downtowns, particularly those arriving there from Iran via Taftan. He later started providing services to the suspected patients in isolation centres established for them in Gilgit.

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Riaz belonged to Chilas in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB). He came home on Friday night but could not get the next day. He was first rushed to a military hospital and then to district hospital. He was put on ventilator and died on Sunday, according to his family.

GB government spokesperson Faizullah Faraq confirmed the death of the young physician who is the first doctor to die in the battle against the deadly virus.

"It is with extreme sadness that the Gilgit-Baltistan health department confirms that Usama Riaz who played a key role in the war against coronavirus has passed away," the GB government tweeted on Monday.

"Usama proved himself the real hero by sacrificing his life to save others,” GB Information Minister Shams Mir said.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Medical Association of Gilgit-Baltistan (PMA G-B) in reaction to Riaz's death accused the government of negligence towards the safety of doctors.

“Riaz had contracted COVID-19 due to the negligence of government and its health department," President PMA G-B Zulfiqar Ali said.

"We will again see what the issue is, and if they (quarantined pilgrims) need further treatment, they will be shifted to DHQ (District Headquarter Hospital) or city hospital, but if they can be treated here, we will provide treatment to them here.”

The region in north of Pakistan along border with China has so far reported 55 cases.

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