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Civil award to be conferred on doctor who lost life treating coronavirus patients

Gilgit Baltistan Governor Raja Jalal Hussain Maqpoon on Wednesday approved a summary to confer civil award on Dr Usama Riaz after he lost his life treating coronavirus patients.

The GB information department confirmed the news in a tweet.

Dr Riaz, a young physician from the GB region, became the first Pakistani doctor to die after contracting the virus on the job.

Dr Riaz was part of a 10-member team 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.

US, France praise Dr Osama

The United States and France have praised Pakistani doctors in their fight against the virus.

Senior US diplomat Alice Wells saluted all ‘brave medical workers across South and Central Asia, who are risking their lives to help the sick and keep everyone safe’.

“Saddened to hear of the death of Dr Usama Riaz, who was on the frontlines of the fight against covid-19 in Pakistan. The US stands with you,” she said.

French Ambassador to Pakistan Dr Marc Baréty also condoled the death of Dr Riaz.

“Our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Dr Osama Riaz who died of serving coronavirus patients in Gilgit-Baltistan. His death reminds us of our hero medics fighting this pandemic on the frontline all around the world,” he tweeted.

The doctor’s colleagues told The News that Dr Riaz had ignored his health and served the patients till late night as the patients had never been provided with any services before.

Dr Shah Zaman, a senior member of the Health Department and focal person of the GB government for coronavirus, told the newspaper by phone that he had personally met Dr Riaz.

“After I met him at the screening centre, he later finished duty and went home. He was perfectly fine at that time and didn’t make any complaints. However, when his wife tried to wake him the next day he did not respond and when they checked, he was unconscious,” Dr Zaman said.

Dr Riaz was then shifted to the Provincial Headquarters Hospital (PHQ) in Gilgit city where he was put on a ventilator and given a swab test, which confirmed him as a positive case.

According to officials in Gilgit, they conducted a second swab to confirm, which also came back as positive for the virus. 

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