Claim: A number of people belonging to the Sami community in Tail Mori district, Badin are infected with COVID-19 while four people from Shaheed Fazil Rahu Taluka, Badin have been admitted to Indus Hospital Badin for the same reason. All cases have been linked to Iran.

Fact: A local journalist from district Badin has confirmed that the news about COVID-19 spreading in Badin is a rumour. The District Health Officer in the region has also stated that although those who returned from Iran were isolated as a precaution, they did not test positive for COVID-19.

On 29 February, a man updated a Facebook status claiming some people of the Sami community had contracted the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. Another user also shared a post saying that those infected with the virus had just returned from Iran. The screenshots and their respective translations are attached below.

This post above translates to, “A number of Sami people living in Rajo Kanani (Tail Mori) are reported to have signs of coronavirus. Government and Management should take notice.”

This translates to, “Some friends from Rajo Khanani and Talhar claim that a number of people of the Sami community have just returned from Iran. They need to be screened for Coronavirus. Government should take cognizance of it.

This translates to, “Coronavirus reaches Badin. Four people of the Sami community have been admitted to Indus Hospital Badin.

The news of COVID-19 spread like wildfire and created fear and panic among villagers, especially women and children living in the surroundings and beyond.

Soch spoke to Amanullah Nizamani, a local journalist based in Rajo Khanani, a small town in district Badin near Tail Mori. He said that a man from the Sami community bought allergy medicine from a medical store  and returned to his home in Nau Dumbalo which made the storekeeper suspicious of him, leading him to spread rumours that the man was infected with coronavirus. Nizamani also said that no one from the Sami community had returned from Iran recently.

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The above post translates to, “Some people are spreading rumours about coronavirus cases in Rajo Khanani without any verification, creating panic in Rajo Khanani and its ambience. Police have confirmed that no man or woman from the Sami community has returned from Iran recently. “

After the rumours spread, Liaqat Qambrani, District Health Officer Badin, says he sent a team of doctors and the police to examine the patients for COVID-19, but no case was confirmed. A medical team was also sent to Nau Dumbalo by the Sindh Health Department for checkup of the alleged COVID-19 patient. But no case has been reported by the health department so far.

However, according to this letter issued by Dr. M. Siddique Memon, Medical Superintendent of the hospital in Shaheed Fazil Rahu Taluka, the five people who returned from Sistan, Iran on 1 March 2020 were suspected to be infected with the virus. According to the letter above, four of the suspected patients have been referred to Indus Hospital Badin, while one of them went to the Makli Civil Hospital. Only one of them complained of a headache, vertigo and sweating.

Moreover, Liaqat Qambrani confirmed that four pilgrims returning from Iran were isolated as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Three of them were sent to Indus Hospital Badin while one was sent to Karachi after initially being referred to Indus Hospital Badin. On 4 March, the patients in Badin were discharged as their tests came back negative, and on 5 March, Dr Abbas Shah – who is the Medical Superintendent at Indus Hospital Karachi – confirmed that the fourth patient was also discharged. The whereabouts of the fifth pilgrim – who went to Makli Civil Hospital – are still unknown. 

Additionally, The News published an article on 5 March, stating that two suspected COVID-19 patients from Larkana initially went to Chandka hospital, but they were advised to travel to Karachi as the local hospital did not have the facilities for the treatment of COVID-19. Soch spoke to Waseem Sheikh, In-charge Dispenser at Chandka, who said that this report was baseless. He did add that a man came in for initial checkup on 4 March, but he was sent home after a COVID-19 focal person at the DHO office in Larkana checked him for symptoms.

Summary: There are no cases of COVID-19 in district Badin and Larkana. Health officials from Indus Hospital Badin and Indus Hospital Karachi as well as the Sindh Health Department confirmed that all suspected patients tested negative for the virus.

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