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Coronavirus: Gilgit-Baltistan, PoK turning into epicentre of COVID-19

News Agencies | Updated on: 12 April 2020, 16:22 IST

Gilgit Baltistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) are fast turning into the epicentre of COVID-19 pandemic in Pakistan as Islamabad has turned a blind eye to the suffering of the people in these territories.

Senge H. Sering, the director of U.S.-based Institute of Gilgit Baltistan Studies told ANI, "The local health facilities in Gilgit Baltistan enable testing of 15 patients per day. The pandemic is raging and at this rate, the region will become the epicentre for coronavirus."

Bordering China's Xinjiang province, Gilgit Baltistan has witnessed 216 positive cases till date and experts believe the numbers would surge if authorities enhance testing facilities in the region.

Senge blamed Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for the failure of his government in tackling the pandemic. He said, "Imran Khan seems clueless in controlling the pandemic. He has refused a lockdown and encourages markets to remain open. At this rate, Pakistan is looking at around 20 million corona infected people. Religious leaders are allowed to keep mosques open."

He added, "Such a situation will create future waves of Corona spread that rest of the world will have to deal with."

Doctors in Gilgit Baltistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) are avoiding to come to the forefront as there is lack of Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) and N-95 masks which has led to casualties of the medical staff.

Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza, a political activist and author from Pakistan occupied Kashmir, said, "It is the government of Pakistan that has ignored Gilgit Baltistan and PoK and failed to provide protective gear and testing kits to the doctors and paramedics. A doctor from GB named Osama Riaz died on March 22 after contracting coronavirus while he was examining religious pilgrims who had returned from Iran via Taftan."

Doctors and other medical staff in PoK and Gilgit Baltistan have already raised their concerns by holding protests as lack of PPEs and testing labs will make the occupied region another epicentre of COVID-19.

In Pakistan, the total number of confirmed coronavirus patients has increased to 5,030 with half of the cases being reported from Punjab province alone. Pakistan has present capacity to conduct 800 tests daily, which is insufficient to tackle the pandemic. The real numbers are believed to be much more.


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First published: 12 April 2020, 16:22 IST