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 40,000 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 crossed 2,400 with 761 cases in Sindh, 914 in Punjab, 169 in Balochistan, 311 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 194 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 62 in Islamabad and nine in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The virus has so far claimed 35 lives in Pakistan, while over 145 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.
10:55pm: K-P confirms 37 new cases of COVID-19, bringing provincial tally to 311
Khyber-Pakhtunkwa has reported 37 fresh cases of the novel coronavirus, pushing the tally to 311 with seven deaths.
As much as 1,938 people have been tested for the highly contagious disease, of them 1,010 tested negative and test results of 617 suspected patients are being awaited.
So far, 30 patients have fully recovered in the province.
8:50pm: Nine more patients recovered from coronavirus in Sindh
Sindh Minister for Health Dr Azra Pechuho has confirmed that nine more people who have recovered in Sindh.
“Out of these nine patients two were Zaireen ‘pilgrims’ from Traftan and quarantined at the Sukkur Isolation facility and seven are residents of Karachi”, the minister said in a statement.
Now, the total number of recovered patients in Sindh reached 65 – 39 in Karachi, 25 in Sukkur quarantine and one in Hyderabad.
7:58pm: COVID-19 claims another life in G-B
An 80-year-old man, who tested positive for coronavirus, has passed away in Gilgit-Baltistan, taking the region’s death toll to three.
“With the latest death, the number of casualties has risen to three,” adviser to G-B chief minister on information Shams Mir confirmed on Thursday during a press briefing.
The deceased belonged to Astore district and had returned from Karachi recently.
7:23pm: 86-year-old man succumbs to coronavirus in Karachi
Sindh Minister for Health and Population Welfare Dr Azra Pechuho has confirmed second death in Sindh, raising the provincial death toll to 11.
The 86-year-old patient was a resident of Karachi. He was tested positive yesterday (April 1) and a case of local transmission of COVID-19. The patient had a history of hypertension.
“This brought the total number of deaths in Sindh to 11,” she added.
6:56pm: Sindh confirms 20 new coronavirus cases
Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho has confirmed 20 new corornavirus cases in the province.
In a statement on Thursday, she said eight new cases were reported from pilgrims quarantined in Sukkur while eight surfaced in Karachi.
The minister also said 250 pilgrims who returned from Iran are currently under treatment and 23 of them have been fully recovered.
“As many as 56 people have been recuperated in Sindh till now,” she added.
6:50pm: Call martyred who dies due to coronavirus, CII chief urges people
Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) Chairman Dr Qibla Ayaz has urged the people to offer Friday prayer at home and follow the government’s lockdown orders.
While addressing a press conference in Islamabad, he said, “Those dying due to coronavirus should be termed as martyred and ‘killed’ should not be used for them.”
6:10pm: Govt launches portal to seek proposals from people to resolve coronavirus crisis
State Minister for Health Zafar Mirza has announced that the National Health Ministry in collaboration with the Pakistan Incubation Centre launched a new initiative under which Pakistanis at home and abroad can send their proposals to resolve the issues related to coronavirus.
He said the proposal can be in a form of product, service or any other thing which can help the authorities to ease the impact coronavirus crisis.
“If proposals are accepted the government will provide the financial and other assistance to develop it further,” he added
The proposal can be sent at: NICPAKISTAN.pk/hackathon
Young innovators & startups, help fight corona virus: We have launched National #HealthHackathon together with @NIC_Pakistan. I’m calling out to all our young & brilliant minds to come fwd & share your ideas to help us fight #coronavirus. Apply here: https://t.co/9FFkixi2gY <273>
— Zafar Mirza (@zfrmrza) April 2, 2020
5:25pm: Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s urs cancelled
The provincial government on Thursday decided to cancel the annual urs of Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, scheduled for April 12.
Officials in the Auqaf Department told The Express Tribune that the decision was made due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
As per the Islamic calendar, the three days of festivities at the shrine of Sufi saint Usman Marwandi – popularly known as Lal Shahbaz Qalander – starts from Shaban 18. Thousands from all over Pakistan flock to the shrine to attend the urs.
Read the story here
3:15pm: Punjab reports more cases
Health authorities in Punjab confirmed another 69 coronavirus cases in the province. The provincial tally is now at 914, confirmed Health Department Spokesperson Qaisaer Asif.
1:48 pm: Covid-19 fund receives billions of rupees
Adviser to the Sindh chief minister Murtaza Wahab said the Covid-19 fund received a contribution of Rs 2,849,315,486 from the Sindh government and Rs 41,325,671 from private donors.
#SindhGovt #COVIDー19 Fund as on 1st April had received a contribution of Rs 2,849,315,486 from Sindh Govt & Rs 41,325,671 from private donors. Every day we will mention the total donation received & also mention the expenses incurred in respect of corona relief
— SenatorMurtaza Wahab (@murtazawahab1) April 2, 2020
12:45 pm: Prime Minister Imran Khan to announce package for construction industry
Prime Minister Imran Khan said a massive package for the construction industry will be announced tomorrow.
He said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has been developing the Rs200 billion package for a long time.
Read more here.
12:40 pm: UNHCR donates five ambulances to K-P
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has donated five ambulances to the K-P government.
The head of UNHCR’s sub office in Peshawar, Mr Bernard Inkoom, handed the five ambulances to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA).
The ambulances will be deployed to Haripur, Kohat, Mardan, Peshawar and Swabi districts.
12:08 pm: Sindh health minister confirms another death
Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho has confirmed another death in Sindh, raising the provincial tally of deaths to 10.
The 65-year-old patient was a resident of Tando Muhammad Khan and a member of the Tableeghi Jamaat.
He had a history of acute respiratory distress syndrome. The patient tested positive on March 28 and had been undergoing treatment.
11:55 am: Measures taken at Allama Iqbal International Airport to ensure social distancing
11:45 am: Awan urges youth to register with Citizen Portal to help those in need
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan has urged the youth to register themselves with the Citizen Portal to help people in need during the lockdown.
She said the premier has assigned the youth the task to distribute essential commodities to the needy.
11:42 am: FO spokesperson appreciates China’s continued support
Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui thanked the Chinese leadership for their support to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, after China donated another consignment of relief supplies worth US$3 million.
🇵🇰 🇨🇳 Special Friendship
— Spokesperson 🇵🇰 MoFA (@ForeignOfficePk) April 2, 2020
11:26 am: New ventilators to be distributed in K-P
New ventilators will be distributed to sensitive areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
30 ventilators will be provided to high dependency units.
The World Bank (WB) provided 53 ventilators, out of which 44 arrived on Wednesday.
67 more ventilators will be provided and will be used in ambulances, isolation wards and intensive care units for patients suffering from the virus.
11:25 am: Growing number of COVID-19 cases across Pakistan
10:35 am: PDMA distributes medical equipment in K-P
Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) dispatched over 50,000 face masks to quarantine centres in the province.
115,000 more masks will be sent to various districts.
1,095 masks will be provided exclusively to the Hayatabad Medical Complex in Peshawar and 3,300 to the Health Directorate.
PDMA will also dispatch 1,300 safety suits, 5,000 gloves, 500 litres of chlorine dioxide and 15 spray machines.
In addition, 750 litres of hand sanitizer and 5,000 personal protective equipment has been sent to the district.
10:30 am: PIA 777 aircraft carrying medical equipment from China arrives
The first PIA 777 aircraft arrived in Islamabad this morning with 14 tonnes of medical equipment from China.
The equipment consists of nine million masks, 60,000 safety lenses, 3,300 safety suits and 100 thermal scanners.
In the next consignment of medical equipment to Pakistan, China will donate gloves and thermal scanners, amongst other medical equipment.
10:12 am: 34 new locally transmitted cases in Sindh
Sindh reports 34 new locally transmitted cases, raising the provincial tally of local transmissions to 410.
17 out of 34 cases emerged in Karachi, nine in Hyderabad, six in Shaheed Benazirabad and two in Jamshoro.
9:00 am: K-P to release 121 Taftan-returned suspected patients tomorrow
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra said 121 Taftan-returned pilgrims will be released after completing quarantine and testing negative for the virus.
He said out of the 121 pilgrims, 13 were from other provinces—Punjab, Sindh and Islamabad. “We did not abandon these people just because they were mistakenly transported here.”
The minister further stated that keeping pilgrims from Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Jhang and Mandi Bahauddin quarantined in Peshawar was “the right thing to do” to curb the spread of the virus.
Tomorrow KP will release 121 Taftan returned #CoronavirusOutbreak suspects after completing quarantine / negative test in DIK & Peshawar.
As we battle the virus, there will be many low moments, but we must celebrate the successes along the way, and this is as big as they come. pic.twitter.com/GyhOGtKMT7
— Taimur Khan Jhagra (@Jhagra) April 2, 2020
8:20 am: Two special PIA planes depart for Toronto
At the request of the Canadian government, two Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flights departed for Toronto.
600 passengers boarded the special planes from Karachi and Lahore.
All passengers were screened and their luggage was disinfected. PIA’s top officials arrived at the airport to monitor the screening process.
PIA spokesperson Abdullah Khan said both the flights will be empty upon return.