QUETTA/ PESHAWAR/ ISLAMABAD/ LAHORE/ KARACHI: The novel coronavirus ÔÇô which originated in the central China city of Wuhan towards the end of December 2019 ÔÇô has spread to all continents excluding Antarctica. The COVID-19 respiratory illness caused by the mysterious contagion has so far killed thousands of people and infected tens of thousands of others across the globe.
Though the deadly infestation has been contained by the Chinese government in Wuhan, the virus has now spread elsewhere, especially in Europe and the United States, with the World Health Organisation declaring Europe as the new epicentre of the viral disease.
Pakistan, despite its close proximity with China, remained unscathed by the virus until February 26 when a young man from Karachi tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The man, in his twenties, had returned from Iran, which is also one of the worst-hit countries.
After a brief pause following the first case, COVID-19 cases witnessed a sharp surge as more pilgrims returning from Iran tested positive despite the fact that they were quarantined for 14 days at the Pak-Iran border crossing of Taftan in Balochistan.
Pakistan confirmed the fourth and fifth casualties from the virus on March 22, four days after first two patients ÔÇô both pilgrims returning from Iran and Saudi Arabia ÔÇô died of the coronavirus in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The third casualty ÔÇô a septuagenarian cancer survivor ÔÇô was confirmed in Karachi on March 20.
The nationwide tally of COVID-19 patients has jumped to 796 with 352 cases in Sindh;┬á108 in Balochistan; 222 in Punjab; 31 in K-P; 71 in Gilgit-Baltistan; 11 in Islamabad; and one in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
Since the situation remains fluid, the stats are changing fast and weÔÇÖre updating them accordingly.
Follow┬áThe Express TribuneÔÇÖs live coverage of the pandemic┬áhere.
1:30am: Special corps commanders conference reviews COVID-19 spread
ÔÇ£Nothing can defeat a responsible and determined nation,ÔÇØ said army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa while charing a special corps commanders conference convened on single-point agenda with regards to COVID-19.
ÔÇ£Pakistan Army, being part of national effort, shall serve and protect the nation as a sacred duty InshAllah,ÔÇØ the army chief said at the conference held at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on Sunday.
Read full story here.
1:00am: Sindh reports 19 new COVID-19 cases, bringing provincial tally to 352
The Sindh government has reported first case in Dadu among 19 new coronavirus cases, jumping the provincial tally to 352 and nationwide cases to 796.
Seven new cases of local transmission were reported in Karachi and seven among pilgrims at Sukkur quarantine centre.
11:45pm: Balochistan reports first COVID-19 casualty ÔÇô PakistanÔÇÖs fifth
The Balochistan government has reported first death of a coronavirus patient, making it PakistanÔÇÖs fifth casualty as COVID-19 tally rises to 108 in the province and 777 in the country.
Officials on Sunday confirmed that a 65-year old patient, who was undergoing treatment at Fatima Jinnah Hospital in Quetta, succumbed to the deadly disease. The patient was a diabetic patient, they added.
11:15pm: Fourth COVID-19 patient recovered in Sindh
Another novel coronavirus patient has recovered and tested negative twice for the virus on Sunday, making the individual the fourth such case in Sindh and Pakistan.
ÔÇ£4th patient of coronavirus in Sindh has recovered and tested negative twice. This case is another ray of hope for us since the person was under home isolation. Alhamdolillah,ÔÇØ provincial governmentÔÇÖs spokesperson Murtaza Wahab wrote while sharing the good news on Twitter.
4th patient of corona virus in Sindh has recovered & tested negative twice. This case is another ray of hope for us since the person was under home isolation. Alhamdolillah— SenatorMurtaza Wahab (@murtazawahab1) March 22, 2020
10:15pm: Young doctor screening coronavirus patients passes away in Gilgit-Baltistan
A young doctor, who had reportedly contracted coronavirus while screening pilgrims coming from Iran and Iraq, has passed away in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B).
Dr Usman Riaz was admitted to a a hospital in a critical condition and put on a ventilator at the main district headquarter hospital in Gilgit.
The Information Department of G-B has confirmed the death, saying Dr Usman Riaz rendered martyrdom while battling against the novel coronavirus.
He will be declared a national hero, the information department added.
Read full story here.
9:00pm: 70 new COVID-19 cases in Punjab raise provincial tally to 222
The Punjab government has confirmed 70 new cases, bringing the provincial tally to 222.
Musarrat Jamshed Cheema, spokesperson to Punjab CM, said in a tweet that out of 222 cases, 53 are pilgrims, 36 are reported in Lahore, four in Gujranwala, three each in Gujrat and Jehlum, two in Rawalpindi and one patient is in Multan.
As of now, there are 222 confirmed patients in Punjab. Out of which 153 are Zaireen, 36 in Lahore, 4 in Gujranwala, 3 each in Gujrat and Jehlum, 2 in Rawalpindi and 1 patient is in Multan.— Musarrat Jamshed Cheema (@MusarratJCheema) March 22, 2020
Please stay indoors and stay safe. We owe this to ourselves and our loved ones.
The new cases take the nationwide tally to 777.
8:45pm: Sindh announces ÔÇÿcomplete ban on people's movementÔÇÖ with few exceptions
The Sindh government has officially imposed a ÔÇÿcomplete banÔÇÖ on public movement in a bid to effectively implement the social distancing measures to curb the spread of coronavirus as cases rose to 333 in the province on Sunday.
A notification in this regard is issued hours after Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah announced that the government is imposing a complete lockdown, terming it "only way" to stem rising COVID-19 cases.
According to the official communiqu├®, the lockdown will last 15 days, effective from Monday midnight (March 23). Under the directives, all kind of social and religious gatherings will not be allowed.
All public and private offices within the territorial limits of the province will also remain shut.
Health and law enforcement agencies personnel however will be permitted to carry out their duties beside workers associated with essential services will be allowed to attend their offices.
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7:45pm: Balochistan reports four new COVID-19 cases, bringing tally to 108
The Balochistan government has confirmed emergence of four new coronavirus cases, taking the provincial tally to 108 and nationwide cases to 707.
6:20pm: 41 new coronavirus cases surface in Sindh, tally rises to 333
With 41 new COVID-19 cases ÔÇô 18 in Karachi and 23 in pilgrims at Sukkur quarantine centre ÔÇô in Sindh, the provincial tally has risen to 333, jumping the nationwide cases to 703.
123 COVID-19 cases have been reported from Karachi with three already cured and one death. 119 are currently being treated at different health facilities across the city. 77 of the cases are locally transmitted.
On the other hand 210 pilgrims, who have returned from Iran, have been tested positive so far in Sukkur.
6:00pm: G-B reports 16 new cases, bringing region's tally to 71
The Gilgit-Baltistan government has confirmed 16 new COVID-19 cases in the valley, raising its tally to 71 and nationwide numbers to 662.
G-B CMÔÇÖs Adviser Shams Mir on Sunday said that out of the total 71 coronavirus cases in G-B, 16 people are those who have contracted the virus from pilgrims returning from Iran.
5:00pm: G-B to impose 'home lockdown' from Monday midnight
Gilgit Baltistan government has decided to impose to complete lockdown from Monday midnight for an indefinite period as the number of coronavirus patients reaches 71 in the region.
Law Minister Aurangzeb Khan on Sunday said Gilgit-Baltistan will be locked down from midnight (tonight) for an indefinite period.
"This will be called home lockdown and police and rangers will be patrolling day and night," said Aurangzeb Khan while addressing a press conference.
He said police and Rangers paramilitary force are given special powers to arrest people violating the orders. The G-B law minister further said that the inter-district transport will also be banned.
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3:50pm: Total lockdown in Sindh post-midnight today
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah announced a province-wide┬álockdown as the cases of COVID-19 spike across the country.
Read more here.
3:30pm: PM Imran rules out total lockdown
Prime Minister Imran Khan ruled out a complete lockdown in the country and urged the citizens to self-quarantine instead.
صورتحال کاتقاضا ہے کہ عوام آگے بڑھیں اور اپنے ہم وطنوں کو کرونا جیسی آفت سے محفوظ بنانے کی تحریک میں ہمارا ہاتھ بٹاتے ہوئے کسی حکومتی فرمان کا انتظار کئے بغیر ہی اپنے آپ کو ازخود گھروں تک محدود رکھیں اور رضاکارانہ لاک ڈاؤن کی راہ اختیار کریں کیونکہ— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 22, 2020
"جو محدود ہے۔۔۔وہ محفوظ ہے"
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2:59pm: State Minister for Health Dr Zafar Mirza delays daily briefing due to PM Imran Khan's address to the nation.┬á
“کرونا تب تک آپ کے گھر نہیں آئے گا جب تک آپ خود اُسے لینے باہر نہیں جائیں گے” <267>— Zafar Mirza (@zfrmrza) March 22, 2020
1:20pm: Punjab govt seeks army deployment
The Punjab government also sought military in aid of civil power to contain the virus outbreak in the province. This was announced by Chief Minister Usman Buzdar at a news conference Sunday.
Read more here.
State Minister for Health Dr Zafar Mirza held a meeting with the departmental heads at the PIMS hospital in Islamabad.
At least 70 additional beds are identified for corona patients; an emergency management committee formed, nurses & paramedics included," he wrote.
Had a good meeting with HoDs of PIMS along with NDMA rep. PPEs for all hlth wrkrs regularly; at least 70 additional beds are identified for corona patients; an emergency management committee formed, nurses & paramedics included. Spcl training sessions to be organized— Zafar Mirza (@zfrmrza) March 22, 2020
1:00pm: PM Imran to address nation today
Prime Minister Imran Khan will address the nation today, said Advisor to the PM on Information Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan.
The premier's recorded message will be telecast today evening. He is expected to brief the nation on the measures taken by the government to contain the virus outbreak.
12:47am: Sindh gears up for lockdown┬á
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah hinted at a province-wide lockdown after a meeting of civil and Law Enforcement Agencies on Sunday. "We are going to make tough decisions," he said. "I will make the announcement in the evening."
Murad added that no persons will be allowed on the roads without a reason during the lockdown. But grocery shops, pharmacies and ATMs will remain open.
12:30am: One woman dies of coronavirus in K-P
K-P government has confirmed┬áthird death due to the novel coronavirus in the province. Addressing a news conference early Sunday,┬áK-P Government Spokesperson Ajmal Wazir said a woman, who had tested positive for COVID-19, passed away on Saturday.
10:00am: Balochistan govt calls for military in aid for civil power under Article 245
The Balochistan government wrote to the interior ministry requesting for military in aid of civil power under Article 245 of the Constitution read with Section 131 (A) of the┬áCode of Criminal Procedure (CrPc). The move came after Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan declared health emergency and┬áimposed a lockdown for three weeks.
Read more here.┬á
9:43am: Dr Zafar Mirza to brief media daily on COVID-19 situation
State Minister for Health Dr Zafar Mirza announced to hold daily conferences at noon to provide a "reliable account of the COVID-19 situation Pakistan with authentic statistics and government measures".
Reliable account of the #COVIDー19 situation in 🇵🇰, authentic statistics, government measures & what you should do - I along with SAPM National Security, Chairman NDMA & other Colleagues will be providing daily official live media update at 12:30pm. Stay tuned! Stay safe <266>— Zafar Mirza (@zfrmrza) March 22, 2020
8:30am: Shehbaz Sharif goes into self-quarantine
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif went into self-quarantine after arriving in Islamabad from London late Saturday. Shehbaz decided to return to Pakistan after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government's decision to close down the airspace to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Read more here.
12:00am: K-P suspends inter-district transport
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government suspended inter-district public transport for seven days with immediate effect from March 23 9:00am.
The varying stats paint a dismissal picture of coordination between the federal and provincial governments. Prime Minister Imran KhanÔÇÖs address to the nation late Tuesday paid a tribute to the Balochistan government and Pakistan Army officials for their part in containing the virus at the Taftan border.
However, Sindh government has come out criticising Centre for lack of foresight in quarantine arrangements in Taftan where over 9,000 pilgrims returning from Iran were and are being quarantined by the Balochistan government in a ÔÇÿtent cityÔÇÖ.
After completing the 14-day incubation period, the pilgrims are allowed to travel back to their cities. However, Sindh and K-P have been sending the pilgrims to isolation facilities in Sukkur and Dera Ismail Khan and running tests before allowing further travel.
The federal government maintained that health was a provincial matter under the 18th Amendment, however, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) argued that border management falls under CentreÔÇÖs domain.
Much of the country is under a lock-down as part of sweeping measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
On March 21, the Sindh government wrote to the interior ministry requesting to call the military in aid of civil administration under Article 245 of the Constitution. The government has already revised academic year by┬ápreponing summer vacations, banned public gathering and closed down restaurants, gyms, social clubs, wedding lawns and halls across the province. It also shut down government offices for two weeks.
The┬áPunjab government┬áannounced a lockdown till March 24 in wake of a surge in cases. The government┬áchose to go digital adopting a work-from-home policy through Skype. It has also banned public gatherings, suspended entry to tourist points including Murree and restricted shopping malls to a 10:00pm deadline.
The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government also announced a lockdown as it shut down┬áall markets, shopping malls and restaurants from Sunday 9:00am to March 24 owing to escalation in the transmission of COVID-19.┬áThe government has also barred restaurants and eateries from takeaways, only allowing home delivery services.
It may be mentioned here that public gatherings and private ceremonies in houses and closed compounds are also banned while educational institutions remain closed.
The Balochistan government has┬áimposed health emergency while also announcing closure of all shopping malls, crowded markets and inter-provincial and inter-city public transport services for an initial period of three weeks.
On the same lines, the Gilgit-Baltistan government also took stringent measures and imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code to discourage gathering of the people.
The Azad Kashmir government suspended the inter-state public transport for three days from Saturday under the health emergency imposed on late Friday to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Read more here.
In its March 13 National Security Committee meeting, Centre formed a Novel Coronavirus Core Committee with daily meetings between federal and provincial authorities.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government tasked National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to coordinate with provincial governments and lead the fight against novel coronavirus.
The federal government also decided to ban public gatherings, close all educational institutions until April 5 and cancel Pakistan Day parade on March 23. It also sealed borders and limited international flights operations to Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.
However, the NSC decision on international travel was taken back on Tuesday when the government lifted restrictions on all airports except Gwadar and Turbat.
Read more here.
On March 21, the government decided to suspend all international flights arriving in the country for two weeks. The ban will not apply to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), which is allowed to bring back its planes from across the world.
Read more here.