LIVE: Doctors call for stricter lockdown ahead of Ramazan as Covid-19 tally hits 10,503

Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho predicts peak in number of cases by mid-May

​ Our Correspondents April 22, 2020
A health worker wearing protective gears, holds a nose-swab, collected at the walk-through screening and testing facility for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Karachi. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI / ISLAMABAD / QUETTA / PESHAWAR / LAHORE / GILGIT / MUZAFFARABAD: 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 2.6 million people in 202 countries and territories of the world ÔÇô more than 180,000 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 ÔÇô 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 stands at 10,503 with 4,590 cases in Punjab, 3,373  in Sindh, 1,453 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 552 in Balochistan, 290 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 194 in Islamabad and 51 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The virus has claimed at least 220 lives while at least 2,156 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┬áweÔÇÖre updating stats as soon as new figures are officially released.

Follow┬áThe Express TribuneÔÇÖs live coverage of the pandemic┬áhere.


live-updates-945112:30am: Punjab sees surge in Covid-19 cases as tally hits 4,590 with 56 deaths

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has shared latest situation of coronavirus outbreak in the province, saying 259 more people have contracted the virus to take the provincial tally to 4,590.

He also confirmed six more fatalities to take the death toll to 56. 790 patients have so far recovered from the mysterious disease, he wrote on his official Twitter handle.





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11:45pm: WHO praises Pakistan for virus response

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday lauded Pakistan for its strategy and commitment to establishing temporary isolation units in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

With the increasing number of cases and rapid response, the federal government had opted for utilising expo centres and few public properties as temporary isolation wards. This initiative has proved to be helpful in assisting the health sector of the country.

ÔÇ£We have been impressed by the progress being made by Pakistan for its commitment to establishing temporary isolation units,ÔÇØ Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director general, was quoted as saying in a series of tweets by the world health body.

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11:40pm: Traders set to resume business from beginning of Ramazan in Sindh

The Sindh Traders Union, All City Traders Union, Electronics Dealers Associations and other tradersÔÇÖ bodies have announced that they will resume business from the onset of Ramazan.

Addressing a press conference, traders expressed dismay over not being allowed to resume business despite giving the Sindh government assurances that they would abide by all standard operating procedures (SOPs) devised by it.

They complained that the government had committed to framing the SOPs for traders by Wednesday but seeing no development in that regard, the traders said they had decided not to wait any further for the authorities to frame the guidelines. They added that they would now not meet any government delegations and were fixed on resuming businesses from the first of Ramazan.

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11:30pm: Pakistan to host SAARC virtual conference on Covid-19

Pakistan will host a virtual conference of ministers and senior officials from eight-member South Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) on Thursday to discuss common strategy against Covid-19 that is now spreading rapidly in this part of the world.

The SAARC conference was proposed by Pakistan and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza will lead the delegation, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Read more here

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11:15pm: K-P reports three more deaths, 86 new cases of Covid-19 in last 24 hours

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) health department has issued the daily situational report, according to which three more Covid-19 patients have succumbed to the deadly virus in the province in the last 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 83 ÔÇô highest in the country.

In the meantime, 86 new cases of coronavirus were also reported from the province on Wednesday to take the provincial tally to 1,453.

414 patients have recovered from the mysterious disease so far, it added.



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11:06pm: Coming 3-4 weeks to be critical, says Zafar Mirza

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza has warned that the next three to four weeks can be critical for Pakistan in terms of coronavirus infections and deaths.

ÔÇ£We have recorded the highest number of deaths from the pandemic in the last 24 hours. The coming 3-4 weeks can be critical for the country,ÔÇØ Dr Mirza said on Wednesday as Covid-19 infections in the country surpassed 10,000. The PMÔÇÖs special aide was briefing the media about the virus situation.

He said ignorance is a major cause of the spread of the contagion.

Dr Mirza lamented that Pakistanis generally do not observe precautionary measures and resultantly a disease spreads which could otherwise be prevented.

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10:36pm: Seven more infected with coronavirus in G-B

Seven more cases of Covid-19 have emerged in Gilgit-Baltistan, taking the regionÔÇÖs toll to 290.

According to details, four people tested positive for the coronavirus in Gilgit, two in Nagar and one in Astor.

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9:40pm: PM Imran, President Trump discuss Covid-19 pandemic over phone

Prime Minister Imran Khan and United States President Donald Trump held a telephonic conversation to discuss coronavirus pandemic that has killed over 175,000 people around the world.

The two leaders discussed challenges being faced by the international community, its implications on global economy, and ways to mitigate its impact. They also exchanged views on regional issues and further strengthening of Pakistan-US cooperation, Aisha Frooqui, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a statement on Wednesday night.

Prime Minister Imran conveyed sympathies and condolences on the loss of so many precious lives in the US due to coronavirus.

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9:30pm: PM Imran tests negative for coronavirus

Prime Minister Imran Khan has tested negative for the novel coronavirus, a day after it emerged that the premier was possibly exposed to the virus.

Dr Firdous Ashiq┬áAwan, the special assistant to the prime minister on information and broadcasting,┬áhas confirmed the test result, saying: ÔÇ£The test used was a polymerase chain reaction (PCR). I am happy to report that his test is NEGATIVE.ÔÇØ



On Tuesday, the premier was tested after Edhi Foundation Chairman Faisal Edhi, who met him┬áa few days ago, diagnosed positive for the respiratory illness ÔÇô Covid-19.

A team of doctors from Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital had collected samples from the premier.

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9:00pm: Sindh CM worries over surge in local transmission of Covid-19

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah sounded alarm on the emergence of over 300 locally transmitted coronavirus cases in Sindh on Wednesday ÔÇô the highest in a day so far.

In a video statement, he revealed that a total of 320 coronavirus cases were reported in the province on Wednesday and among them an astounding 308 were those of local transmission.

ÔÇ£It means the ratio of locally transmitted cases is now 15.2 per cent of the reported cases,ÔÇØ the CM explained.

This was the highest number of locally transmitted cases ever witnesses by the province, he expressed worry, adding that Karachi had turned out to be worst hit in terms of local transmission cases where the tally had peaked to 1,300.

Read more here

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8:30pm: Superstore closed as employee catches coronavirus in Karachi

A branch of Metro Cash and Carry, located at University Road in Karachi, was closed on Wednesday till further notice after an employee tested positive for coronavirus.

According to the store management, the employee had returned to work after a long vacation and was tested after he showed symptoms of the virus.

All the staff members of the store have also been tested for Covid-19, they claimed. Meanwhile, the management also stated that it was disinfecting the whole building and was following the guidelines suggested by the government to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

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8:00pm: Balochistan reports two more casualties to raise death toll to eight

The provincial health department in Balochistan has confirmed two more fatalities to bring the province's coronavirus death toll to eight.

Fresh cases raise the Covid-19 tally to 552, according to the daily situational reported share on Wednesday evening.



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7:15pm: 41 local transmission cases take Balochistan's Covid-19 tally to 536

The Balochistan government spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani has confirmed 41 new cases of local transmission, taking the province's coronavirus tally to 536.

388 of these are local cases, he said in a tweet.



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7:00pm: Medical experts call for stricter lockdown, urge Ulema to take coronavirus seriously

Prominent doctors of the country have demanded of the federal government to impose a stricter lockdown and also urged religious scholars and masses to take the coronavirus pandemic seriously.

Indus Hospital CEO Dr Abdul Bari, Pakistan Medical Association General Secretary Dr Qaiser Sajjad and others, in a joint press conference in Karachi, opposed the deal between clerics and the on congregational prayers and opening of mosques during Ramazan.

Criticizing the government, they said the authorities have taken several wrong steps in countering the pandemic, adding that religious leaders were not properly briefed on seriousness of the situation.

Dr Bari, speaking on the occasion, said that they do not want mosques to be closed down. However, only the staff should be allowed to offer prayers inside.

He said since Taraweeh Prayer was not obligatory, it can be offered at home, saying that coming four weeks would be the toughest and the worst is yet to come.

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6:50pm: NDMA chairman tests negative for Covid-19

Dr Shahbaz Gill, a spokesperson for the federal government, has said that National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt-Gen Muhammad Afzal has been tested negative for coronavirus.



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6:30pm: PM Imran visits Hilal-e-Ahmer Pakistan hospital for Covid-19 patients

Prime Minister Imran Khan has paid a visit to Covid-19 hospital in Rawalpindi established by Hilal-e-Ahmer Pakistan (Pakistan Red Crescent society).

He was briefed by PRCS Chairman Abrarul Haq on arrangements that have been made to treat patinets of coronavirus. Prime Minister Imran was joined by Federal Minister for Railway Sheikh Rashid, Adviser to PM Dr Sania Nishtar, and SAPM Dr Zafar Mirza.

Prime Minister Imran was briefed that the hospital can treat 100 Covid-19 patients whereas an intensive care unit with 10 beds had also been established. The ICU is equipped with eight ventilators.

He was informed about the facilities of operation theatre, laboratory, pharmacy, ultrasound and X-ray that is being provided at the hospital. He also visited the ward where patients were being treated.



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6:00pm: PM Imran launches Ehsaas Emergency Cash Information Portal

Prime Minister Imran Khan has launched Ehsaas Emergency Cash Information Portal, making public the details of disbursements of cash among the most underprivileged segment of the society.

Chairing a meeting on the subject, the prime minister said the government was making utmost efforts to provide financial assistance to those affected by coronavirus.

Under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme, the operations have been ongoing since April 9, 2020. To-date, overall disbursements of Rs65.249 billion have been made to 5.437 million beneficiaries across the country in categories 1 and 2.

The portal will enable people to access information in real-time and its electronic link will be made available by Thursday morning.



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5:45pm: Dr Zafar Mirza briefs media on Covid-19 outbreak



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5:30pm: Army chief visits NCOC to review coronavirus situation



Read details here

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5:00pm: 103 fresh cases raise PunjabÔÇÖs Covid-19 tally to 4,331

The daily situational report issued by the Punjab Health Department has confirmed that total number of coronavirus patients has risen to 4,331 with 103 new cases across the province.

This includes 768 pilgrims, 1,883 Tableeghi Jamaat members, 97 inmates and 1,683 ordinary citizens.

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4:10pm: PM Imran's test results expected soon

The prime ministerÔÇÖs personal physician and focal person on Covid-19 Dr Faisal Sultan has said that the result of the premierÔÇÖs coronavirus test is expected soon.

ÔÇ£The test takes a few hours and we will release the report through official channels.ÔÇØ



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3:20pm: PM reviews progress of the Economic Stimulus Package 

Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting to review the progress of implementing the Economic Stimulus Package introduced by the government.

The meeting reviewed the progress of the package to ensure transparency in the allocation of funds to small-business owners and persons affected by Covid-19.

Minister for Planning Asad Umar, Minister for Industries Hamad Azhar, Finance Advisor Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and Minister Finance Punjab Makhdoom Hashim Jawab Bakht were present during the meeting.

line-945-15248325222:50pm: Sindh governor hands over PPE to commissioner Hyderabad

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail handed over personal protective equipment (PPE) for paramedics to commissioner Hyderabad.

 

line-945-15248325222:30pm: Ehsaas Emergency Cash portal to be released tomorrow

Ehsaas Emergency Cash operations have been ongoing since April 9 and disbursements of at least Rs65 billion have been made to over 5 million beneficiaries.

An information portal related to these distributions will be introduced today to show transparency in the disbursements.

The premier will be briefed about the portal today and the electronic link will be made available tomorrow.

line-945-15248325222:20pm: Sindh health minister predicts peak in number of cases by mid-May

Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho said according to predictive analysis, a peak in the number of cases by mid-May will be witnessed.

Currently, 60pc of the confirmed cases are local transmissions, she added.

"If we follow a strict lockdown, we can flatten the curve of cases. But because the lockdown is soft, we may see a peak end of May," she said.



line-945-15248325222:05pm: PM Imran meets Senator Faisal Javed to discuss telethon 

Prime Minister Imran Khan met Senator Faisal Javed to discuss details pertaining to the telethon.

Public channels will air the first-ever, longest telethon tomorrow.

Lauding the initiative of holding a telethon, the premier said, "The Pakistani nation has faced every difficulty with resilience and perseverance and helped their brothers generously. The passion expressed by the affluent people for the Corona Relief Fund is inspiring."

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1:45pm: K-P's testing capacity increases from zero to 1200 

K-P Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra said in over a month, the province's testing capacity has increased from zero to 1200.

On Tuesday, 833 tests were conducted - a new daily record in the province.

 

line-945-15248325221:30pm: 320 new cases in Sindh 

Adviser to Sindh chief minister Murtaza Wahab reported 320 new coronavirus cases, raising the provincial tally to 3,373.

He said in the last 24 hours, 50 patients have recovered. The total number of recoveries in Sindh stands at 715.

In the past 24 hours, 2,097 tests have been conducted.

 

line-945-15248325221:20pm: FM Qureshi meets NDMA chairman to discuss availability of supplies 

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi called on Chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal to discuss the availability of medical equipment.

Lt Gen Afzal informed the foreign minister that countries around the world, particularly China, are sending medical supplies to the country.

Qureshi lauded steps taken by the NDMA to curb the spread of the virus and assured Lt Gen Afzal that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to provide assistance and facilities to the institution.

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line-945-152483252212:55pm: Punjab Prevention of Hoarding Ordinance 2020 

line-945-152483252212:30 pm: How not to wear a mask

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line-945-152483252212:05pm: FM Qureshi says over 6,000 Pakistanis to return each week

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said efforts are being made to repatriate stranded Pakistanis from abroad.

Qureshi said the government is enhancing the capacity of testing and quarantining overseas Pakistanis on arrival so that they can be brought back in large numbers.

Earlier, 2,000 stranded Pakistanis were brought back each week but now over 6,000 citizens will return, he added.

Read more here.

line-945-152483252211:55am: Sindh Governor Imran Ismail visits cash distribution centre in Jamshoro 

line-945-152483252211:50 am: Punjab Cabinet to focus on provision of protective clothing to doctors

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has convened a Cabinet meeting and will address the members via video link.

The meeting will focus on the treatment of affected patients and the provision of protective clothing and essential medical supplies to doctors and paramedics.

It will also review progress regarding the distribution of financial support to those affected by the lockdown.

line-945-152483252211:35am: 1,244 British nationals depart for the UK

At least 1,244 British nationals stranded in Pakistan departed for the United Kingdom (UK) on four special flights.

Three Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and one Qatar Airways flight operated from Islamabad.

378 passengers left for Manchester via PK-701, 327 passengers for Birmingham via PK-791 and 296 for London via PK-785.

243 passengers departed for London via Qatar Airways, flight QR-3254.

line-945-152483252211:20am: Pakistanis returning from Afghanistan screened, tested

Pakistani nationals returning from Afghanistan were screened, tracked and tested on arrival.

The passengers were sent to Chaman via 30 passenger coaches and two medical coaches.

The National Command and Operation Centre said the medical coaches are fully equipped with essential medical supplies.

line-945-152483252210:50am: ATH Abbottabad authorised to conduct tests

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra said Ayub Teaching Hospital Abbottabad has been authorised by K-P's coronavirus testing labs to support testing in the Hazara region.

He said Saidu Group of Teaching Hospital in Swat and Hayatabad Medical Complex in Peshawar were also authorised earlier this week.


line-945-152483252210:10am: Turkey donates medical equipment to Pakistan

A Turkish aircraft, carrying medical equipment arrived in Islamabad early morning.

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) spokesperson said the goods consisted of 20,000 N95 face masks and 18,500 gowns.

The goods were handed over to Chairman NDMA Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal.

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line-945-152483252210:00am: CM Mahmood to visit Abbottabad, Manshera today

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan will visit Abbottabad and Manshera today, to review arrangements made at the quarantine and isolation centres in both districts.

He will also inaugurate the Abbottabad Police School of Intelligence.

line-945-15248325229:40am: PM to participate in telethon tomorrow

Prime Minister Imran Khan will participate in a telethon tomorrow to collect donations to mitigate the spread of the virus.

The amount collected will be used for buying personal protective equipment (PPEs) for doctors and paramedics.

line-945-15248325229:20am: Govt to present large package for affectees in NCC meeting today

The federal government will present a large package for those affected by the coronavirus lockdown, in a meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) today.

Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar said the government is working on introducing a scheme of loans for people.

line-945-15248325229:00am: Nine fresh cases in Islamabad, two in Gilgit-Baltistan

After Islamabad reported nine new cases and two more were confirmed in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), the nationwide tally jumped to 9,749.

According to the National Command and Operation Centre, 17 patients succumbed to the virus, raising the death toll to 209 while at least 2,156 patients have recovered. 58 are in critical condition.

In the last 24 hours, 5,637 tests have been conducted.

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