FAISALABAD: Two more chickenpox patients admitted to a government-run hospital in Faisalabad died on Sunday night, pushing the death toll to 14.
Five-year-old Amber, a resident of Jhang, and Asghar Ali, a resident of Miani Wala, had contracted the disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus and were admitted to the Allied Hospital, a teaching hospital affiliated with the Punjab Medical College.
The exact data of chickenpox patients living in and around Faisalabad is not available with the local health authorities. However, independent sources said the number of chickenpox patients in the city is well over 100 and the death toll has reached two dozen.
The Allied Hospital’s records show that 61 chickenpox patients, 21 from across the Faisalabad district including Toba Tek Sigh and Bhakkar and 40 from the Faisalabad city, were brought to the hospital alone during the last 104 days.
The hospital administration maintains that they now have more facilities available for the treatment of the disease including a dedicated ward and an isolation compound where patients in a serious condition are being treated.
Two medical officers and a nurse of the Allied Hospital also contracted the disease and were admitted. The hospital administration has taken more protective measures for its staff.
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Dr Masooma Sardar of the Allied Hospital told The Express Tribune that at first they were facing difficulties in delivering a prompt response because of a shortage of vaccines and medicines. “But now we are equipped with the resources to deal with this outbreak,” she added.
District health officer Dr Asif Shahzad said it was for the first time that they were facing such a situation as most of the chickenpox patients were aged between 20 and 40 years.
“Chickenpox is not included in the declared protective course of vaccination by the top health authorities in Punjab. Therefore, the local health authorities cannot be blamed for the outbreak,” he added.
The official said he had asked the provincial health authorities to provide chickenpox vaccine to the local authorities so that it could be distributed to around 8,000 health workers in Faisalabad.
Dr Shahzad went on to say: “Chickenpox is not a deadly disease. Normally any adult who contracts it can be cured within eight days.”