Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar addresses a news conference. SCREENGARB

LIVE: Govt extends countrywide lockdown till May 9 as Covid-19 tally jumps to 11,736

Government is making all-out efforts to enhance testing capacity, says Asad Umar

​ Our Correspondents April 24, 2020
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. ItÔÇÖs not the virulence or fatality, but the infectivity of the new virus ÔÇô also known as SARS-CoV-2 ÔÇô that has set off a global frenzy.

The Covid-19 respiratory illness caused by this mysterious contagion has so far infected more than 2.7 million people in 202 countries and territories of the world ÔÇô more than 190,000 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 11,736 with 4,851 cases in Punjab, 3,945  in Sindh, 1,708 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 656 in Balochistan, 307 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 214 in Islamabad and 55 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The virus has claimed at least 248 lives while at least 2,527 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.


11:50pm: K-P reports four more deaths, 167 new Covid-19 cases in last 24 hours

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) health department, in its daily situational report issued late on Friday, confirmed four more casualties due to coronavirus across the province to bring the death toll to 89.

With 167 fresh cases, the provincial tally of Covid-19 patients has risen to 1,708. These include 56 new cases at quarantine centre established at Torkham border.

472 patients have recovered from the deadly virus in the province so far.


11:40pm: President Alvi, religious affairs minister visit Faisal Mosque

President Dr Arif Alvi and Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri on Friday night visited Shah Faisal Mosque and other mosques situated in the federal capital to review precautionary measures adopted for Taraweeh prayer on the eve of first day of Ramazan.

The president expressed satisfaction over implementation of 20-point agreement signed between the government and the religious scholars of the country. Other mosques should also follow the measures taken at Faisal Mosque this will help curtail the spread of coronavirus pandemic, he added.



11:30pm: Covid-19 biggest challenge after WWII: Qureshi

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday said the novel coronavirus pandemic is the biggest global challenge after World War II that has caused severe difficulties for the whole planet.

Over two million people are infected with the Covid-19 and more than 100,000 have died, according to the data of the Johns Hopkins University.

ÔÇ£The whole world has stopped practically because of the coronavirus,ÔÇØ he said while addressing the Pakistani community in the United Kingdom via a video link.

Read our full story here

line-945-1524832522 11:00pm: Follow SOPs as next 15 days crucial: ISPR DG

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar has said that the next 15 days are crucial in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic and extreme care is needed to prevent the disease from spreading any further.

During a news conference on Friday, DG ISPR said, The next 15 days are very crucial  a smart lockdown, testing and tracing and quarantining will prove beneficial in our fight against Covid-19. We will have a targeted lockdown only for virus hotspots and clusters.

Meanwhile, the militaryÔÇÖs media wing announced that a team of Chinese doctors along with medical supplies has arrived in Pakistan, adding that the doctors would bring expertise to help the country fight the virus as it goes through another period of lockdown.

Read full story here

line-945-1524832522 8:50pm: Eight fresh Covid-19 cases raise G-B tally to 307

The Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government has said that eight more people have contracted the novel coronavirus in the region. This brings the total number to 307.

213 patients have recovered so far, it added.


8:15pm: Balochistan reports two deaths, 49 new Covid-19 cases

The Balochistan health department, in its daily situational report, has confirmed two more casualties due to coronavirus to bring the death toll to 10.

With 49 new cases, total number of Covid-19 patients has also risen to 656.


8:00pm: Sindh govt issues lockdown SOPs for Ramazan

The Sindh government has issued detailed standard operating procedures (SOPs) for businesses and citizens during the holy month of Ramazan amid coronavirus lockdown.

In a notification issued on Friday, the authorities asked the faithful to offer Taraweeh prayers at home.

Sale of traditional Iftar items including samosa and pakora will not be permitted. However, home delivery of such items will be allowed under the SOPs issued by the government earlier.

The official communiqu├® also ordered the officials concerned to ensure the implementation of Ehteram-e-Ramazan Ordinance.


7:10pm: Chinese doctors bring more medical supplies to fight coronavirus

A team of Chinese doctors, headed by Maj-Gen Huang Qingzhen, has brought more medical supplies and equipment on two special aircraft. The Chinese doctors who have expertise in treating infectious diseases will support PakistanÔÇÖs efforts in fighting against Covid-19 for the next two months.

Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Nadeem Raza along with senior military officials welcomed the team on arrival.

The Chinese support reaffirms that being the ÔÇÿIron BrothersÔÇÖ and ÔÇÿAll-Weather friendsÔÇÖ, Pakistan and China have always helped each other in the time of need.

line-945-1524832522 7:00pm: Another doctor succumbs to Covid-19

Another medical professional succumbed to deadly coronavirus in the country when a senior dispenser of a virus control room in Civil Hospital, Quetta passed away on Friday.

MS Dr Fazlur Rehman Bugti and DMS Dr Javed Akhtar expressed deep grief over the death of Dr Haji Dilawar.

line-945-1524832522 6:10pm: Govt extends countrywide lockdown till May 9

Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, while addressing a news conference in Islamabad, said on Friday that the government has decided to extend the ongoing lockdown for another 15 days til May 9 to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country.

He said the government is also making all-out efforts to enhance testing capacity to ascertain the actual number of infected people in the country.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has instructed the power division to ensure that there will be no loadshedding during Iftar and Sehar timings during the holy month of Ramazan across the country, said the minister.

ÔÇ£If people act irresponsibly and do not follow precautionary measures, then we will be compelled to impose more restrictions by the end of Ramazan,ÔÇØ he warned.

Umar said almost half of the money allocated for Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme has been distributed among the underprivileged. The relief scheme will continue throughout the holy month of Ramazan, he added.

Read our full story here


5:30pm: Punjab's Covid-19 tally rises to 4,851 with 84 new cases

Another 84 people have contracted coronavirus to raise total number of such cases to 4,851 across Punjab, the provincial health department confirmed on Friday.

This includes 768 pilgrims, 1,915 Tableeghi Jamaat members, 86 inmates and 2,082 citizens.


4:15 pm: Dr Sania Nishtar addresses media


3:50 pm: SAPM Dr Zafar Mirza introduces overseas health initiative

Special Adviser to Prime Minister on Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza introduced a special programme for overseas Pakistanis, called the Pakistan Diaspora Health Initiative:

The programme has been launched in collaboration with the health department and would assist overseas Pakistanis to conduct training sessions and provide aid for people in Pakistan.


3:20 pm: SAPM Dr Zafar Mirza addresses media


3:15 pm Parliament has a pivotal role in fight against coronavirus: PM Imran

Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the parliament has a pivotal role to play in the fight against coronavirus.

In a meeting with National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, the premier said implementing the decisions taken at the parliamentary level is the government's priority.

ÔÇ£The government is taking every possible step to rid the country of this virus and we have to surmount this challenge collectively as a nation,ÔÇØ he said.

Imran appreciated the steps taken by the speaker regarding the establishment of a functional committee for zaireen and Tableeghi Jamaat members.

The speaker appreciated the steps taken by the government to contain the spread of the contagion.


3:00 pm: DG ISPR Major General Babar Iftikhar press conference


2:55 pm: PIA special flights' fares reduced by 20-30% 

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has reduced its special flights' fares by 20 to 30pc for nationals stranded in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari said the reduction for the UAE- bound special flights would come into effect from April 25.

line-945-15248325222:40 pm: Medical supplies purchased from China arrives in Islamabad

According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), another consignment of medical supplies purchased from China has arrived in Pakistan.

A special plane of the Pakistan Air Force brought back supplies to Islamabad.

The supplies consisted of 2o biosafety kits, 50,000 VTM kits, 116 nuclear acid extraction kits, 91 bio testing kits and 50,000 N95 masks.

In the next few days, more safety and testing kits will be provided to all provinces, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), the NDMA spokesperson said.

line-945-15248325222:20 pm: 10-member delegation of Chinese Health Department arrive in Islamabad

A 10-member delegation of the Chinese Health Department has arrived in Pakistan.

The delegation, headed by Major General Hoang Van Thai reached Islamabad and was welcomed by Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing.

line-945-15248325222:00 pm: Zero-tolerance policy on hoarding, violation of SOPs

Federal Minister for Revenue Hammad Azhar said prices of goods are being monitored and the government has a zero-tolerance policy on hoarding, cartelisation or violating standard operating procedures (SOPs) for those industries that have been permitted to work amid the lockdown.


line-945-15248325221:40 pm: CM Sindh presides over meeting to discuss Ramazan lockdown timings

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah chairs a meeting with other government officials to decide lockdown timings during the month of Ramazan.

The chief minister apprised the meeting that select businesses will operate from Monday to Thursday from 9am to 3pm, while grocery stores will remain open from 8am to 5pm.

No home delivery services will operate during sehri timings and cooked food items may be delivered from 5pm to 10pm, he added.

CM Murad

line-945-15248325221:30 pm: Sindh reports 274 new cases

Adviser to Sindh chief minister Murtaza Wahab confirmed 274 new cases, raising the province's tally to 3,945.

In the last 24 hours, 42 patients have recovered from the virus. The total number of recoveries in Sindh stands at 772.

2,561 tests have been conducted today.


line-945-15248325221:10 pm: Ehsaas Emergency Cash distribution sites following protocols

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar said the Ehsaas Emergency Cash distribution sites are following strict social distancing protocols.


line-945-15248325221:00 pm: K-P excise department temporarily transfers over 200 officials to local administration 

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Department of Excise and Taxation has decided to temporarily transfer 200 officials to the local administration to fight the pandemic.

Excise officials will assist the deputy commissioner in special duties.

Assistant Excise Taxation Officer Ijlal Babar has been appointed focal person.

line-945-152483252212:50 pm: PSE business hours during Ramazan 

The Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSE) business hours during Ramazan will be from 9:17am to 2pm from Monday to Thursday.

On Fridays, it will begin at 10:17am and shut at 1pm.

line-945-152483252212:35 pm: Balochistan police booked record number of cases 

Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal said the provincial government is making sure protocols are maintained and improved.

He said police have booked a record number of cases violating Section 144.


line-945-152483252211:40 am: Alvi requests citizens to pray at home in Ramazan

President Arif Alvi requested citizens to pray Taraweeh at home during the month of Ramazan, despite the 20-point standard operating procedure announced in agreement with the country's top religious leaders.


line-945-152483252211:30 am: PM Imran to convene NCC meeting today

Prime Minister Imran Khan will convene a meeting on the National Coordination Committee (NCC) today.

Chief ministers and federal ministers of the four provinces will attend the meet.

The meeting will discuss a strategy for the implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) during Ramazan.

They will be briefed on data collected by the National Command and Operation Centre and will review decisions implemented in the last NCC meeting.


11:10 am: China will continue to strengthen Pakistan's capacity to fight pandemic

Beijing's Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing said China will continue to┬ástrengthen PakistanÔÇÖs capacity to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

The Chinese ambassador called on Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to discuss Pakistan-China bilateral relations, the fight against the pandemic, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and other matters of mutual interest.

Qureshi thanked China for extending support to Prime Minister Imran KhanÔÇÖs global initiative for debt relief amid the outbreak and appreciated the Chinese people for providing medical supplies to Pakistan.

Read more here.

line-945-152483252211:00 am: 1,146 tests conducted in 24 hours in K-P

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra said 1,146 tests were conducted in 24 hours.

He said this is the highest number of tests conducted in one day, in the province.


line-945-152483252210:50 am: Firdous urges opposition, Ulema to join hands with govt

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan urged opposition leaders, civil society and the Ulema to join hands with the government in the fight against the virus.

Awan said the government will welcome constructive criticism by opposition leaders to improve their strategy to fight the virus.

Besides the virus, Pakistan is facing extreme poverty and hunger. It is the responsibility of the government to prevent deaths from both, she added.


10:40 am: WHO issues guidelines on safe practices during Ramazan

The World Health Organisation (WHO) issued guidelines on safe practices during the month of Ramazan to curb the spread of the virus.

Physical distancing measures, including the closing of mosques, monitoring of public gatherings and other restrictions on movement are among some of the guidelines.

Read more here.

line-945-152483252210:20 am: Bilawal Bhutto speaks with BBC World over the Covid-19 situation in Pakistan


line-945-15248325229:20 am: Nationwide tally stands at 11,155

The National Command and Operation Centre said the total number of confirmed cases in the country stands at 11,155.

It reported 13 deaths in the last 24 hours, raising the nationwide death toll to 237, while at least 2,527 patients have recovered.

In the last 24 hours, 6,839 tests have been conducted.

The centre said 79 per cent of the cases are local transmissions and 21 per cent are from foreign travel.

line-945-15248325229:00 am: Pakistani traders want permission to open shops

The Central Tanzeem-e-Tajiran Pakistan chief demanded that the government should end its partial lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and allow businesses to reopen across the country during Ramazan.

The head of the traders association said the government had failed to chalk out an effective strategy to enforce a lockdown in the country.

Read more here.


8:25 am: Punjab likely to extend lockdown till May 31

The Punjab government is considering proposals to extend the partial lockdown till May 31 except for the export industry and government offices.

A senior official revealed that the provincial government has forwarded the proposals to Islamabad for the final decision.

Another official indicated that the government has also decided to partially open shops during the holy month of Ramazan.

Read more here.

line-945-15248325228:00 am: Sindh govt announces tax concessions

The Sindh government has announced a 25 per cent concession in professional tax, property tax, motor vehicle tax and entertainment tax. According to notifications issued by the Sindh excise and taxation department, the tax exemption will be for three months of the current financial year.

Read more here.

line-945-15248325227:40 am: Chinese company approaches Pakistan for vaccine trials 

Adviser to Prime Minister on National Health Dr Zafar Mirza said Pakistan was approached by a Chinese company for vaccine trials to mitigate the virus.

He said the government has asked for more details to be analysed by experts on the basis of safety, ethics, regulation and feasibility.


line-945-15248325227:30 am: K-P testing capacity to increase three-five folds

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra said after successfully conducting 27 trials on pool testing, the coronavirus testing lab at Khyber Medical University (KMU) is permitted to do pool tests.

This will increase testing capacity to three-five folds more.




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