LIVE: COVID-19 war can only be won through national unity, says PM as tally soars past 4,750

Death toll hits 100,000 with over 1.6 million people infected with coronavirus across the world

Prime Minister Imran Khan holds a telethon to raise funds. SCREENGRAB

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 1.6 million people in 202 countries and territories of the world – more than 100,000 of them have died and counting.

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 soared past 4,750 with 2,279 cases in Punjab, 1,214 in Sindh, 656 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 220 in Balochistan, 215 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 107 in Islamabad, and 34 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The virus has claimed 71 lives while at least 745 coronavirus patients have recovered.

The number of cases has continued to soar despite the country being under lockdown for the third consecutive week.

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

12:15am: First coronavirus case reported in Muzaffarabad; AJK’s tally rises to 34

Officials in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) have confirmed emergence of first COVID-19 case in the state’s capital, Muzaffarabad on Friday.

This brings total number of coronavirus cases in the territory to 34.

11:10pm: Three more succumb to COVID-19 in K-P as cases rise to 656

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has confirmed three more casualties taking the death toll to 25 across the province.

The provincial health department also reported 39 new cases of coronavirus on Friday. This brings the cases tally to 656.

10:30pm: PM appeals for more registration of Corona Relief Tiger Force

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday extended deadline for registration of Tiger Force till April 15 and appealed to the youth, especially those associated with health sector to register themselves with Corona Relief Tiger Force.

The premier, in a video message, said the country needed more volunteers, doctors and paramedics in the trying time to fight the battle against the pandemic.

He expressed his gratitude to the youth and paid tributes for taking keen interest to become part of the Corona Tiger Force.

Read more here.

9:00: Balochistan reports only one COVID-19 case, raises tally to 220

Only one case of novel coronavirus was reported across Balcohistan on Friday. This brings the total number of COVID-19 cases to 220 in the province.

8:30pm: FM Qureshi gives Rs10m cheque to PM Imran for coronavirus relief fund

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi handed over a cheque of Rs10 million to Prime Minister Imran Khan for his COVID-19 Relief Fund in a meeting in Islamabad on Friday.

“This reflects the contribution of officers and staff members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the national cause,” the foreign minister was quoted as saying in a FO statement.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stands ready to reinforce national efforts to combat challenges of COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.

8:00pm: K-P extends public holidays till April 18

The Khyber-Pakhtukhwa (K-P) government has extended public holidays till April 18 amid cornavirus crisis across the province.

Essential service however will not be affected, according to a notification issued on Friday.

7:15pm: Khurshid Alam appointed focal person for ‘corona philanthropy drive’

Prime Minister Imran Khan has appointed Khurshid Alam as “Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Corona Philanthropy Drive”.

According to a notification issued on Friday, the focal person will serve in the honorary capacity and has been tasked to propose measures to encourage masses and the business community for “enhanced patronage of corona fund”.

7:00pm: PM Imran offers condolence to Sindh CM over his brother-in-law’s demise

Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed grief and sorrow over the demise of Syed Mehdi Shah, brother-in-law of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah.

The premier prayed for eternal peace of the departed soul and for courage to the bereaved family to bear this loss with fortitude, according to a PM Office statement issued on Friday.

5:30pm: PM Imran holds telethon to raise donations for coronavirus relief fund

Prime Minister Imran Khan, while holding a telethon at a private TV channel to raise donations for his corornavirus fund on Friday, said no government could win the war against COVID-19 alone and national unity was needed to defeat the deadly contagion.

He said the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) comprised representatives from the federal and provincial governments, military officials and medical experts, who jointly take decisions through coordination.

The telethon was also broadcast live in Saudi Arabia, Canada, US and Europe.

Answering questions, he said Rs144 billion will be distributed among 12 million families, but we know there are more people who need this support.

“We are using all our resources, but we have to take care of 220 million people who live below the poverty line across the country… that's why we have arranged this fundraising telethon,” he explained.

He said the government was leaving no stone unturned to tackle the crisis.

“Countries around the world are taking the brunt of coronavirus... many governments are struggling... even the rich European countries. You can see the situation in New York… even they were asking for help from other states.

“We know that the coronavirus cases will further rise in the coming days, but by limiting our movement, we can flatten the curve... this is the aim of my government.”

He said due to a weak health system in the country, people are requested to socially distance themselves. “We have to take all possible precautions... that's the only way out of this crisis,” he maintains.

“No one knows what the situation would be in future... we can only hope for the best,” said the premier.

The cricketer-turned-politician said he had expertise in raising funds and people trusted him.


4:25 pm: All Pakistanis returning from Afghanistan will be tested, quarantined: Asad Umer

Federal Minister Asad Umar, during the daily situation briefing held at the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), has said all Pakistani nationals returning from Afghanistan will undergo testing and a mandatory quarantine period.

He added that cargo movement between Afghanistan and Pakistan is limited to food and medicine and movement of cargo vehicles would only be allowed three days a week.

3:45 pm: President Alvi offers special prayers

President Arif Alvi offered special prayers at the President House to rid the world of the coronavirus pandemic.

The president was joined by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser.

3:20 pm: CM Buzdar visits rural health facility in DG Khan

2:50 pm: Focus on protecting medical community: PM Imran

Prime Minister Imran Khan, during his day-long tour of Peshawar, said the government is taking all possible measures to protect medical staff in the country as they are the frontline against the coronavirus pandemic.

“According to global trends, the spread of the virus will accelerate in the coming days and this will put more pressure on the medical community,” said the premier while addressing the media.

“Our main objective is to protect doctors and medical staff and balancing our economy with the spread of the virus.”

2:20 pm: 86 tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hours

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said 586 tests have been conducted in the last 24 hours and 86 tested positive for the virus in the province.

In a video message, the chief minister urged citizens to stay at home and maintain social distancing to protect themselves, their families and friends.

"Defeat the coronavirus by implementing government orders," he said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the Hayatabad Medical Complex, where he was briefed about the coronavirus situation in the province and steps taken by the provincial government to contain the virus.

Adviser to Sindh chief minister Murtaza Wahab confirmed 1,214 positive cases in the province, with at least 358 recoveries and 22 deaths.

He said in the last 24 hours, there have been nine recoveries.


1:30 pm: Qureshi says Ehsaas programme is Pakistan’s largest social protection programme

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the Ehsaas programme is Pakistan’s largest social protection programme, in line with the prime minister’s vision.

Rs144 billion will be distributed to 12 million families within two weeks, he added.


The federal government has refused to provide cargo flight operations to Sindh for the import of testing kits.

The Sindh government said it is a hurdle in the fight against the pandemic.

Read more here.

China sends another consignment of relief goods to Pakistan. China Airlines flight CZ-6007 arrived in Islamabad.

The aircraft contained face masks, gloves, thermometers, protective clothing, hand sanitisers and testing kits.

Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Peshawar and was welcomed by Governor Shah Farman and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan.

The federal government will launch mobile utility stores today. In the first phase, the stores will be established in Islamabad.

The mobile utility store will be used to deliver goods to people in areas where utility stores are not available.

The inauguration of the mobile utility store will be held this evening at Jinnah Convention Centre.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said it is the country's obligation to repatriate stranded Pakistani nationals in other countries.

He further maintained that Pakistan’s ambassadors and consulates abroad are extending every possible assistance to the country’s citizens by providing them “accommodation, food and meeting their  needs.”

Read more here.

Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Peshawar today, where he will be given a detailed briefing by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government on the precautionary steps taken to curb the spread of the virus.

The premier will also visit the Hayatabad Medical Complex.

Centres have been set up across the country to support and provide relief to those affected by the virus. The premier will visit and review a centre based in Peshawar.

A special prayer 'Salaat-u-Tauba' will be offered today at the President House after the Friday prayer.

This was decided during a meeting between President Dr Arif Alvi and a delegation of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII).

The ulema urged people to offer two rakaat 'Salaat-u-Tauba' at their homes to seek forgiveness and help save humanity from the pandemic.

A special Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft carrying relief aid from China has arrived in Islamabad.

The aircraft, flying from Beijing, was carrying relief goods including ventilators, face masks, testing kits and protective gear.

PIA Spokesperson Abdullah Khan said PIA stands with the nation in times of difficulty.

8:45 am: Nationwide tally stands at 4,601

The National Command and Operations Centre said the nationwide tally of confirmed cases stands at 4,601, after 284 new cases emerged in the last 24 hours.

It reported four new deaths, raising the tally to 66, while 727 patients have recovered.

2,478 tests have been conducted in the past 24 hours, and 54,706 in total.

K-P Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra said this crisis will present an enormous financial challenge.

The minister said the K-P government will not compromise on helping the poor and on investing in healthcare.


Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra lauded K-P's paramedics for their spirit during this difficult time.

He recognised that nurses are heroes too, and urged everyone to understand that they too, play a crucial role.

Jhagra also promised that the provincial government will spend every rupee available to ensure protection for the medical community.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra said the total number of confirmed cases stands at 620, after 65 new cases emerged in the province.

The health minister added that out of the 620 cases, 552 were provincial cases and 68 were from pilgrims.

He reported two new deaths, raising the provincial tally to 22, while at least 128 patients have recovered.