Suspected coronavirus patient stopped at Multan Toll Plaza

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Shahzaib Rahujo, who was shifted to an isolation ward with possible symptoms of the novel coronavirus, was reportedly stopped at the Multan Toll Plaza early Tuesday morning after he tried to go to Islamabad for treatment from his village in Sindh.

His elder brother Irshad Ali told The Express Tribune that the family decided on moving Rahujo to Islamabad after the Civil Hospital in Khairpur failed to provide him with any treatment.

“We left the hospital for Islamabad around 10:30pm yesterday (Monday),” he said adding that they were on their way when the family was approached by Deputy Commissioner and District Health Officer Khairpur who asked them to come back to the hospital.

Khairpur student put in isolation ward after return from China

However, the family decided to carry on with their journey and go to Islamabad. The family was eventually stopped at the Multan Toll Plaza where authorities barred them from going any further.

Rahujo was then escorted by police and motorway police to a facility in Gambat where he is now under treatment.

The student was studying petroleum engineering at a university in China, situated around 1,000 kilometres from Wuhan and returned to Pakistan on Saturday night. Unable to book a direct flight, to he had flown to Karachi via Qatar.

“He was experiencing a headache, flu and cough when he reached Qatar,” Ali told The Express Tribune. “He took some medicine to relieve the symptoms and was able to reach the village safely.”

He said that his brother had gone through medical screening at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi. “He was absolutely fine during the screening because he had already taken the medicine,” he explained. “But when he got home, he had fever, flu, cough and fatigue.”

On Monday, when Rahujo’s nose started bleeding, he was immediately taken to Civil Hospital, Khairpur. Health officials there instructed his family to shift him to Karachi right away, since they did not have adequate facilities at the hospital.

“We were on our way to Karachi when they told us to come back to the civil hospital,” narrated Ali. “There, they put him in a dengue ward.”

Rahujo’s family was told by the doctors that he could not be moved anywhere because ‘the minister’ wanted the patient to remain in isolation until his tests were completed. “But there is no doctor and we are not being treated properly,” Ali complained, saying that the doctors and paramedics were not visiting his brother even on the Sindh health minister’s orders.

Neither the patient nor his attendants were given any respiratory masks or precautionary instructions during their visit and stay at the hospital.

Rahujo returned to Pakistan on his family’s insistence after the spread of coronavirus across different cities of China. The city where he was residing – his brother was unsure of the name – had confirmed 60 cases of the virus, along with one death, when he flew out.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Saeed Sangri, a social activist who also lives in Nangerji, said that the health authorities had sent an ambulance to the village around 2pm on Monday.

“They just took the patient to the hospital,” he said. “It seemed like a formality. They did not ask him or his family anything.” Sangri claimed that Rahujo had been interacting with all his family members, cousins and other relatives since his return home, adding that the entire village was praying for his health.

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“There is panic in the village. It is a remote area and the villagers do not even know much about the precautionary measures for coronavirus,” he commented. “The health department should immediately set up a medical camp and conduct check-ups of all those who met him.”

Meanwhile, Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, taking notice of Rahujo’s condition, directed district and provincial health officials to immediately shift him to an isolation ward. “There is no symptom of the virus,” she claimed in an official statement.


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