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Pakistan to Confer Civil Award on Dr. Osama Riaz

by Newsweek Pakistan

The 36-year-old physician from Gilgit-Baltistan became the first Pakistani doctor to die of coronavirus while treating patients of the disease

Gilgit-Baltistan Governor Raja Jalal Hussain Maqpoon on Wednesday approved a summary to confer a posthumous civil award on Dr. Osama Riaz, who was the first Pakistani doctor to die after contracting coronavirus.

In a tweet, the Gilgit-Baltistan Information Department said that the governor had approved a summary to award the highest civil honor of Pakistan upon Dr. Riaz. While the tweet did not specify the award being sought for Dr. Riaz, the highest civil honor in Pakistan is the Nishan-e-Pakistan, which is conferred for distinguished services to the country.

Dr. Riaz, 36, was a physician from Gilgit-Baltistan who was infected with COVID-19 while screening pilgrims who had recently returned to Pakistan from Iran. Doctors blamed the lack of personal protection equipment for his death, and urged the government to ensure other medical professionals did not suffer the same fate.

After Dr. Riaz’s death, the Information Department of Gilgit-Baltistan declared him a martyr and pledged to remember him as a national hero.

Both the U.S. and France had praised the bravery of Pakistan’s medical professionals and offered their condolences for Dr. Riaz’s death after news of his passing became public. “Saddened to hear of the death of Dr. Usama Riaz, who was on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19 in Pakistan. The U.S. stands with you,” Senior U.S. diplomat Alice Wells posted on Twitter.

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 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 posted on Twitter.

People across Pakistan have also taken to social media to hail the work being done by medical professionals, many of whom have only recently been assured they would be provided personal protection equipment to ensure they don’t contract the virus from patients during treatment.

Pakistan currently has 2,071 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 27 deaths and 82 full recoveries. Most of the country is currently in the midst of partial lockdowns to encourage social distancing and curb the spread of the disease.

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