Islamabad: With dengue outbreak acquiring alarming proportions across the country, Pakistan is hurriedly ordering medicines from India to battle the disease that has killed at least 13 people, affected thousands and triggered panic in the affected areas, said news reports.
Shahbaz Sharif, chief minister of Pakistan`s Punjab provice, ordered that dengue medicines be immediately imported from India, reported The Nation Monday.
Sharif asked state Health Secretary Jahanzaib Khan to promptly get in touch with the Indian high commissioner in Islamabad to import the WHO-approved medicines from New Delhi.
The chief minister told an emergency meeting of Punjab officials that medicines and equipment needed to be imported urgently, and Indian drugs were the easiest available.
Khan said 2,994 dengue virus cases have been reported in the province.
In New Delhi, reliable sources, however, said no official request has been received here for Indian assistance. An official of the Pakistan high commission said he has also seen media reports, but declined to comment any further.
Sharif also directed officials to contact the Sri Lankan high commissioner for staff, equipment, technical assistance and medicines.
In response, the Sri Lankan government will be assisting Pakistan`s fight against dengue virus, by sending 11-member expert team on Sep 13, said Associated Press of Pakistan.
The Sri Lankan expert team of dengue eradication will be staying in Pakistan for 10-15 days and will be carrying out the need assessment and training of the Pakistan officials, said the report.
Geo News reported that 10 people had died in Punjab. One of the victims was senior government official Ataullah Siddiqui, who was hospitalised Friday after he was diagnosed with the virus.
Three deaths were reported from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province while the number of dengue patients continued to rise across Punjab, Geo said.
Lahore in particular was seriously hit with over 3,000 cases. Hospitals are finding it difficult to cope with the large number of dengue cases, the reports. Emergency has been declared in all Lahore hospitals.
The outbreak has also been reported from Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces.
An editorial in the News International said Monday: "The annual dengue outbreak has struck with an especially vicious sting this year, creating mass panic - most notably in Punjab.
"The degree of alarm has led to morning assembly being cancelled in schools. "Punjab is not the only affected province; in Sindh, 190 cases of dengue-related hospitalisation have been reported and there have been three deaths in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa."
Saying that there was mass public panic, it stated: "Knowing that dengue is an annual curse, preventive actions should have begun much sooner.
"We must seek ways to treat and curb this illness which has taken a heavy toll on our already strained healthcare system," it added.