LIVE: Pakistan sees a surge in COVID-19 cases as tally crosses 2,000 with 26 deaths

Published: March 31, 2020
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Nearly half of the Pakistani population is still not serious about the contagious disease. PHOTO: FILE

Nearly half of the Pakistani population is still not serious about the contagious disease. PHOTO: FILE

Nearly half of the Pakistani population is still not serious about the contagious disease. PHOTO: FILE Ministers brief media in Islamabad. SCRENGRAB PHOTO: Reuters

ISLAMABAD / KARACHI / PESHAWAR / QUETTA / LAHORE: The novel coronavirus emerged in the central China city of Wuhan towards the end of last year and proliferated to almost the whole world within a couple of months. It’s not the virulence or fatality, but the infectivity of the new virus – also known as SARS-CoV-2 – that has set off a global frenzy. The COVID-19 respiratory illness caused by this mysterious contagion has so far infected more than half a million people in 202 countries and territories of the world – more than 30,000 of them have died and counting.

China appears to have stemmed the tide against the viral outbreak as it has eased lockdown restrictions in Wuhan, the ground-zero of the virus, after two months, but new hotspots have emerged in Europe, Iran and the United States. In Europe, Italy and Spain are bearing the brunt as their death toll combined makes up more than half of the fatalities caused by COVID-19.

Pakistan, despite its close proximity with China, remained coronavirus-free until February 26 when a young man from Karachi tested positive after returning from Iran – one of the worst-hit countries. After a brief hiatus following the first case, COVID-19 cases spiked as more pilgrims returning from Iran tested positive for the virus.

The nationwide tally of COVID-19 patients has reached 2,020 with 676 cases in Sindh, 708 in Punjab, 153 in Balochistan, 253 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 166 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 58 in Islamabad and six in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The virus has so far claimed 26 lives in Pakistan, while over 65 COVID-19 patients have fully recovered.

The situation remains fluid and we’re updating stats as soon as new figures are officially released.

Follow The Express Tribune’s live coverage of the pandemic here.

1:00am: Pakistan carries out whole genome sequencing to help combat COVID-19

A department of the University of Karachi has successfully carried out whole genome sequencing to understand the genetics of COVID-19, medically named SARS-CoV-2, to know how coronavirus spreads and behaves.

“Jamil-ur-Rahman Center for Genome Research, Dr Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research, University of Karachi, has carried out whole genome sequence of Coranavirus (SARS-CoV-2),” Professor Dr Muhammad Iqbal Chaudhry said on Tuesday.

He said that the sequencing was carried out to understand the genetics of this highly contagious virus in Pakistan which was mapped by a team of young scientists under the supervision of Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed with the collaboration of Dow University of Health Sciences.

Read more here.

11:50pm: Punjab reports 32 more COVID-19 cases as tally crosses 700

The primary and secondary healthcare department of Punjab government has confirmed another 32 coronavirus cases in the province, bringing the total number of cases to 708.

11:30pm: 32 new COVID-19 cases swell K-P’s tally to 253

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has reported 32 new cases of COVID-19, raising the provincial tally to 253 on Tuesday night.

11:00pm: ‘Nearly 50% Pakistanis yet to take precautionary steps against coronavirus’

As many as 43% of all Pakistanis have not taken any precautionary measures to protect themselves from coronavirus so far, according to a recent Gallup International survey.

The survey declared this as the highest percentage of citizens among the 28 nations that took part in the poll, ringing alarm bells for Pakistan where over 1,900 people have already been tested positive for COVID-19 with 26 casualties.

The survey, conducted in March 2020, declared that nearly half of the Pakistani population is still not serious about the contagious disease which infected more than half a million people in 202 countries and territories of the world – more than 30,000 of them have died and counting.

Read more here.

10:00pm: Sindh unveils country’s first drive-through COVID-19 testing facility in Karachi

In an unprecedented development, first drive-through coronavirus testing facility has been established by the Sindh government in Karachi which will enable suspected coronavirus patients to get themselves tested without having to wait in long hospital queues.

“This initiative is part of our war against coronavirus and we have been facing huge demand for coronavirus testing,” Sindh Local Body Minister Nasir Hussain Shah said while speaking to media on Tuesday.

Read full story here.

9:20: 10 more patients recuperate in Sindh, raising recoveries to 51

Another 10 COVID-19 patients have recovered in Sindh as total number of recuperated patients reached 51 on Tuesday, provincial government’s spokesperson Murtaza Wahab said.

“People should learn that isolation or social distancing is the only cure to coronavirus. These 49 isolated themselves, can you?” he posed a million dollar question in a tweet.

9:00pm: Eight new cases take Balochistan’s COVID-19 tally to 158

The Balochistan reported eight new cases of coronavirus, bringing total number of patients to 158 in the province on Tuesday.

17 patients have already recovered from the highly contagious disease.

8:45pm: Punjab reports 24 new cases to bring COVID-19 tally at par with Sindh

The primary and secondary healthcare department of Punjab government has confirmed 24 new cases of COVID-19 in the province, raising the tally to 676 — at par with Sindh.

Five coronavirus patients have recovered with nine have passed away in the province so far.

8:00pm: CJCSC among different military departments donate salary in COVID-19 relief fund

A day after Prime Minister Imran Khan established the coronavirus relief fund, Pakistan Army’s departments announced to donate their salaries “to support national efforts in fight against COVID-19,” said the military’s media wing in a statement on Tuesday.

The Inter Services Public Realtions (ISPR) said scientists, engineers and employees of National Command Authority (NCA) and Strategic Plans Division (SPD) have contributed their salaries according to their pay scale which are as follows:

Employees of Special Pay Scale 11-14 – 3 days

Employees of Special Pay Scale 8-10 – 2 days

Employees of Special Pay Scale 1-7 – 1 day

Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Nadeem Raza has also contributed his one month’s pay, said the ISPR.

Read full story here.

7:15pm: Sindh’s COVID-19 tally swells to 676 with fresh cases among Tablighi Jamaat in Hyderabad

Sindh’s Minister for Health and Population Welfare Dr Azra Pechuho has confirmed 49 new COVID-19 case of local transmission, mostly among members of Tabligi Jamaat in Hyderabad, to bring the total number of cases in the province to 676.

Currently, there are 128 cases in Hyderabad including 94 among Tablighi Jamaat.

Karachi now has 274 coronavirus cases whereas Dadu and Jacobabad have one each.

41 patients have recovered while 627 are still being treated at different health facilities across the province.

6:00pm: Sind reports another COVID-19 casualty as death toll rises to eight

Sindh’s Minister for Health and Population Welfare Dr Azra Pechuho has confirmed one more fatality, bringing the death toll to eight in the province and 26 in Pakistan.

The 74 year old patient was a resident of Karachi and was brought to hospital on March 26, where he was tested, she said in a statement.

The patient had a history of acute respiratory distress syndrome and diabetes, she added.

5:45pm: Ministers brief media over coronavirus measures

Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, along with Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar and SAPM on Heath Dr Zafar Mirza, briefed the media over measures taken by the government to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country on Tuesday.

Umar said the country’s testing capacity is increasing rapidly and the government will be able to conduct 0.9 million tests by April 15.

He said the federal cabinet has approved Rs1.2 trillion relief package for those in need across the country.

Hammad Azhar said the federal cabinet has also approved an economic stimulus package worth Rs1.2 trillion.

He said the government’s priority is to ensure supply and availability of essential items amid the national crisis.

“We have prepared a list of industries related to essential items and we will make sure that these industries will remain operational during the lockdown,” said the minister.

“All provinces will follow the same policy in this regard,” he added.

5:30pm: With 24 new cases, G-B’s coronavirus tally rises to 166

The information department of Gilgit-Baltistan has confirmed 24 new cases of COVID-19, raising the region’s tally to 166 on Tuesday.

5:15pm: Two Pakistanis test positive for COVID-19 after returning from India

Two Pakistani nationals, out of a group of five, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus on their return to the country from India.

The two are residents of Lahore and are kept in isolation ward of Services Hospital.

The tests for the other three individuals came back negative and one of the individuals had travelled to India for a liver transplant procedure. However, the doctors in India refused to conduct the procedure due to the patient’s advance age.

Read more here.

4:50pm: Awan says Cabinet discussed the economic condition 

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan said the Cabinet in its meeting discussed the country’s economy in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak in the country and measures to deal with the expected economic fallout.

3:40pm: Pakistan Navy to contribute to PM’s relief fund

The Pakistan Navy has decided to contribute to the premier’s coronavirus relief fund.

Naval Chief Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi will donate one months salary to the relief fund.

Vice admirals, rear admirals and officers to the rank of commodore will donate three days salary, and other officers will donate two days salary to the fund.

3:10pm: Balochistan exempts employees from salary deduction 

The Balochistan government has exempted all employees of the health department from the deduction of salary for the Coronavirus Emergency Fund.

balochistan

2:15pm: Bilawal Bhutto, Shehbaz Sharif discuss situation after pandemic

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto called PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif to discuss the situation once the country contains the spread of the virus.

Shehbaz lauded the efforts of the Sindh government.

“The coronavirus is a global pandemic and can only be defeated by joint efforts,” Bilawal said. 2:10pm: Federal Cabinet approves Rs1,200b relief package

The Federal Cabinet approved a package worth Rs1,200 billion.

During the meeting, cabinet members discussed halting exports.

Cabinet members also said hotels have been shut and drivers are unable to eat or drink. They recommended opening a specific dhaba for the daily wage earners.

2:00pm: Govt extends ban on entry of visitors into Kartarpur Corridor

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government extended the ban on the entry of visitors into Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara for another two weeks.

1:35pm: Federal govt launches WhatsApp helpline to deliver information

The federal government launched a WhatsApp helpline to update individuals about the novel coronavirus.

The helpline will answer questions about novel coronavirus, its symptoms, ways to protect yourself, risk assessment and also shares information about nearest labs for coronavirus test.

The helpline is available in English, Urdu, Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Balochi and Kashmiri and can be reached by messaging ‘hi’ to +92-300-111-1166.

1:20pm: PDMA dispatches medical equipment to K-P health department

Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) dispatched 50,000 N95 masks to the K-P health department and other institutions.

It also distributed 8,000 surgical gloves and caps to health authorities.

In addition, 750 litres of hand sanitiser and 5,000 personal protective kits were distributed.12:20pm: Pakistan’s Air Quality Index (AQI) levels improve 

Pakistan’s Air Quality Index levels improve significantly after the lockdown closed factories and transport.

In March, the AQI level of Karachi dropped from 117 to 69, Lahore from 195 to 51, Islamabad from 167 to 167 Peshawar from 194 to 87.

Read more here.

11:48am: Health authorities confirm six new cases in Punjab

Health authorities confirmed six new coronavirus cases in Punjab, raising the provincial tally to 658.

A spokesperson for health authorities said five patients have also recovered.

11:30am: K-P health minister lauds govt for ensuring disinfection in Peshawar

K-P Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra lauded government efforts for ensuring disinfection in Peshawar on a daily basis.

 

11:20am:  All Parties Conference organised by Pakistan Peoples Party Punjab to be held today

PPP senior leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said the meeting aims to adopt a common strategy to contain the virus at a provincial level.

“The war against corona is only possible through mutual cooperation and consensus,” he said.

Kaira said the government will provide suggestions to curb the spread of the virus and government errors will also be identified.

10:30am: Punjab waives off provincial taxes for business community

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzadar announced an ‘Economic Stimulus Package’ waiving off provincial taxes worth Rs18 billion for the business community and entrepreneurs to assist in stabilising their business operations till the coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

line-945-15248325229:29am: 14 new locally transmitted cases of the Tableeghi Jamaat

At least 14 new locally transmitted cases of the Tableeghi Jamaat emerged in Hyderabad, raising the provincial tally to 627.

9:15am: 45 new locally transmitted cases in Karachi

Authorities confirmed that 45 people tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Karachi. The new cases are of local transmission in the port city.

8:00am: K-P health minister appreciates lockdown in Mardan

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra posted an aerial photograph of Mardan and thanked the administration, police and military for working together to manage the lockdown.
He also appreciated the people of Manga for their efforts to stay at home.

 

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