Remaining matches will be held without spectators, says Sindh govt spokesperson. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Covid-19: PSL matches in Karachi to be played in empty stadium

PM Imran Khan convenes National Security Committee meeting to review measures against COVID-19

​ Our Correspondents March 12, 2020
ISLAMABAD/ LAHORE/ KARACHI: As Pakistan confirmed its 21st novel coronavirus case on Thursday, the federal government convened the National Security Committee to review the measures put in place to check the spread of the deadly contagion while the Sindh government said the remaining matches of a popular T20 cricket championship in Karachi will be played without spectators.

While chairing a meeting of PTI’s parliamentary party in Islamabad, Prime Minister Imran Khan said the government was already on alert to deal with possible emergence of the novel coronavirus in Pakistan. He said a meeting of the National Security Committee has been convened to review the situation.

The announcement coincided with a decision of the Sindh government that the remaining matches of Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Karachi will take place without any crowd.

“This decision has been made after consultation with all stakeholders including the Pakistan Cricket Board,” the provincial government spokesperson, Senator Murtaza Wahab, wrote on his verified Twitter handle.

Most of Pakistan’s 21 coronavirus cases have been reported in Sindh. Wahab denied claims the provincial government was hiding information regarding the virus spread. “The Sindh government is not hiding any information about coronavirus or the number of patients in the province,” he added.

All educational institutions in Sindh are shut until March 16. Wahab said that the provincial cabinet would convene at 10pm on Thursday to decide whether to extend the closure of educational institutions in the province.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Gilgit-Baltistan government confirmed on Thursday that a young man has been tested positive for the coronavirus which has infected nearly 125,000 people in 118 countries in all continents barring Antarctica.

“The 31-year-old man, who hails from Shagar area of G-B, had recently been to Iran,” the spokesperson, Faizullah Firaq, told The Express Tribune. The patient has been shifted to the Isolation ward of the G-B hospital. So far, three coronavirus cases have been diagnosed in the region, but Firaq said G-B is at a greater risk from the virus as compared to other parts of the country.

Over in Punjab, the government declared health emergency in the province. The decision was taken by the provincial cabinet on Thursday after receiving a briefing on the coronavirus from health officials.

The cabinet was informed that as many as 3,964 Zaireen who returned from a pilgrimage in Iran have been screened and kept under observation. A quarantine facility has been established in the southern Punjab district of DG Khan for 800 pilgrims from Iran.

The cabinet was also informed that Chinese citizens in the province are also being screened for the mysterious contagion. A ministerial committee has been assigned to decide further actions.

In Balochistan, which shares a border with Iran – one of the worst hit countries by the coronavirus – Provincial Minister Sardar Yar Mohammad Rind said all schools would remain closed till March 31 as a precautionary measure.

“Action will be taken against schools that do not comply with the decision which has been taken after consultation with the health ministry,” he added. “Matric exams have been postponed. We’re in talks with to shut madrassahs as well. A decision regarding reopening of educational institutions will be taken on March 27.”

A day earlier, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus officially declared the outbreak of the novel coronavirus a global pandemic.

“We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterised as a pandemic,” he told a news conference.

Four countries – China, South Korea, Iran and Italy – account for 93% of the nearly 110,000 cases worldwide, Tedros said. “We are encouraged that Italy is taking aggressive measures to contain its epidemic and we hope that those measures prove effective in the coming days,” he added.

What does the pandemic label mean?

“Due to the widespread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the mysterious virus, across the globe, the WHO wants to highlight the importance for countries to strengthen their preparation and response for imminent community spread,” said State Health Minister Dr Zafar Mirza.

This means the world can “still change the course of this pandemic, by detecting, testing, treating, isolating, tracing, and mobilising their people in the response”, he wrote on his official Twitter handle.

“The countries need to scale up their emergency response by communicating with the people about risks and how to protect the public,” he added.

About Pakistan, where 21 cases have officially been confirmed, Dr Mirza said the federal and provincial governments have been working in sync for the past seven weeks to implement the broad cardinals of preparedness and response as the WHO DG has highlighted.

“We will inshAllah continue to work to keep the flag of Pakistan safe from coronavirus,” he added.


Khadim Hussain | 3 years ago | Reply a sensible and rational decision to say the least.
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