LIVE: Govt to launch ‘We Care’ campaign for healthcare workers as Covid-19 tally hits 32,937

Published: May 12, 2020
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Planning Minister Asad Umar presides over NCOC meeting in Islamabad. PHOTO: PID

Planning Minister Asad Umar presides over NCOC meeting in Islamabad. PHOTO: PID

Planning Minister Asad Umar presides over NCOC meeting in Islamabad. PHOTO: PID PHOTO: Reuters

ISLAMABAD / KARACHI / PESHAWAR / LAHORE / QUETTA / 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 4.1 million people in 202 countries and territories of the world – and over 285,000 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 stands at 32,937 with 11,868 cases in Punjab, 12,610 in Sindh, 5,021 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 2,158 in Balochistan, 475 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 716 in Islamabad and 89 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The virus has claimed at least 733 lives while at least 8,555 coronavirus patients have 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.

live-updates-94511:33am: Most lawmakers ‘not taken onboard’ in easing Covid-19 curbs

A majority of the provincial legislators have stressed the need to take rigorous yet careful actions to alleviate the socioeconomic fallouts of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, expressing serious concerns over lack of testing facilities and proposing strict enforcement of lockdown until the threat of infections existed.

According to a telephonic survey conducted with 219 members of the 749 of the four provincial assemblies by Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) on Tuesday, most of them demanded immediate convening of assembly sessions for participatory decision-making on the pandemic.

The survey included legislators from 15 parliamentary parties. The treasury and opposition parties had almost equal representation among the pool of respondents – 51% and 49%, respectively. The interviewees included around a quarter (27%) of women legislators.

Read more here

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12:49am: Doctors call for celebrating Eid with simplicity

Doctors asked people to celebrate Eidul Fitr with simplicity this year, so as to contain the spread of the coronavirus, while addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Shershah Syed, an obstetrician and founder of Koohi Goth Women’s Hospital, warned of a second wave of Covid-19 if precautionary measures were not adopted properly, adding that the federal government should take appropriate measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Dr Habiba Hassan urged people to follow the advisory issued by health experts, so that they may stay safe against the contagious disease.

Read more here

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12:27am: Eight doctors contract coronavirus in Karachi

As many as eight doctors working at Civil Hospital, Karachi tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday.

The infected persons include the head of the department of gynaecology and obstetrics, six postgraduate doctors working in the department, as well as a house officer.

According to the hospital administration, all staff members at the department have been directed to self-isolate at their homes, while staff members who had been in close contact with the infected doctors would be tested for the virus.

The administration further maintained that the gynaecology and obstetrics ward had been disinfected and dismissed the rumors of the ward being closed.

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11:58pm: Sindh governor recuperates from Covid-19

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, who was tested positive for Covid-19 last month, has announced his complete recovery from the mysterious disease on Twitter.

“Many thanks to all those who prayed for my health. I will soon be donating blood plasma to those in need,” he wrote on his official handle.

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11:13pm: Two more Covid-19 cases raise AJK tally to 89

With two more people testing positive for Covid-19, the total number of patients has risen to 89 in Azad Jamuu and Kashmir (AJK), health official said.

So far, 53 patients have recovered while one has succumbed to the deadly virus in the state.

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11:00pm: G-B reports 18 new cases of Covid-19

Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) has reported 18 positive cases of Covid-19, taking the region’s tally to 475, according to the health department.

The total number of active coronavirus cases in the region is 140 with four deaths so far, the health authorities added.

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8:45pm: Pakistan, WHO ink MoU for imparting training to health workers

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between Health Services Academy of the National Command and Operation Center and the World Health Organisation to impart online training to professional health workers to cope with Covid-19.

This was stated by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza while addressing a video conference in Islamabad on Tuesday, Radio Pakistan reported.

He said under the agreement over 100,000 frontline workers will be imparted online training in Pakistan about usage of protective equipment, adding that frontline paramedical staff and doctors are heroes of the nation, and the government accords top priority to facilitate them.

WHO representative in Pakistan Dr Palitha Gunarathna Mahipala signed the agreement.

Representatives of all four provinces, including Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, attended the conference via video link.

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8:34pm: Balochistan reports 97 new Covid-19 cases to raise tally to 2,158

The Balochistan Health Department, in its daily situational report, has confirmed 97 new cases of coronavirus to raise the provincial tally to 2,158.

The virus has claimed 27 lives while 256 patients have recovered from the disease in the province so far.

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8:10pm: NA Speaker Asad Qaiser discharged from hospital after Covid-19 treatment

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser has been discharged from hospital after recuperating from coronavirus, he announced on Twitter.

He thanked the nation for praying for his recovery.

Qaiser was taken to hospital after testing positive for the mysterious disease on May 1.

He did not say if he was tested negative for Covid-19. However, an hour later he shared the news that his test result has come negative.

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6:30pm: Ten more succumb to Covid-19 in K-P as death toll rises to 267

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Health Department, in its daily situational report, has confirmed 10 new casualties due to coronavirus – five in Peshawar, three in Mardan, and one each in Swabi and Malakand – taking the death toll to 267.

146 new cases were also reported in the past 24 hours to bring the total confirmed cases to 5,021 in the province.

49 patients have recuperated, taking the recoveries tally to 1,305 while number of active cases stands at 3,449 across the province.

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6:00pm: Govt to launch ‘We Care’ campaign for protection of healthcare workers

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Tuesday was apprised that the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination was going to launch the campaign ‘WE CARE’ for the protection of the healthcare workers.

The initiative is aimed at bringing all medical workforce on the same page, PM’s aide on health Dr Zafar Mirza briefed the meeting.

Full story here

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5:45pm: Bilawal vows to thwart any move against 18th Amendment rollback

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has vowed to thwart any move against curtailing provincial autonomy, saying the federal government wants to roll back the 18th Amendment on the pretext of Covid-19 pandemic.

“We [Sindh government] are being victmised because they [federal government] wanted to use the 18th Amendment as a bargaining chip,” Bilawal said while addressing a press conference in Karachi on Tuesday.

Since the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic in the country, the ruling PTI ministers have criticised the PPP-led Sindh government over its handling of Covid-19, blaming the 18th Amendment, which guarantees financial and administrative powers to provinces, for the Center’s inability to effectively implement its coronavirus measures across the country.

Bilawal said the federal government lacks majority in parliament to make amendments to the Constitution but “if the Centre makes any such attempt we are ready to resist them at all available forums”.

Full story here

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5:35pm: Information minister briefs media on cabinet’s decision

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz has briefed the media about decisions taken in the federal cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Faraz also urged people to strictly adopt social distancing protocols and preventive measures against Covid-19.

“I know people are excited as they have been allowed to go outside after a long time but we have to take precautionary so that our hospitals do not get overwhelmed,” he remarked.

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4:45 pm: At least 440 medical workers have tested positive

At least 440 healthcare workers across Pakistan, including 70 nurses, have tested positive for Covid-19, and eight have died, according to the latest data from authorities.

Read story here

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4:00 pm: Eidul Fitr to be celebrated with simplicity in Balochistan

The provincial government of Balochistan has asked citizens to celebrate Eidul Fitr with “simplicity” this year and avoid crowding at places or meeting people.

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3:25 pm: Sindh reports new cases 

Provincial health authorities have reported 593 new novel coronavirus cases and 18 deaths in the province over the last 24 hours.

The provincial tally now stands at 12,610

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2:45pm: Schools will not reopen from June 1, says Saeed Ghani

Sindh Education and Labour Minister Saeed Ghani said schools will not reopen from June 1.

However, a new date will not be announced as of now, he added.

The minister said a committee has been constituted on Sindh’s education policies and will report by Thursday, after which recommendations will be sent to the federal government.

He said students from Grade 1-8 will be promoted. However, all students cannot be promoted as per the rules of the boards of examination.

line-945-15248325222:20pm: Govt orders more flights to US to repatriate stranded Pakistanis

A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight carrying 17 stranded Pakistani nationals will depart from New York for Islamabad on May 17.

This will be the third flight repatriating stranded Pakistanis.

The Government of Pakistan has ordered more flights to the United States (US) to repatriate Pakistanis.

line-945-15248325222:15pm: China sends medical equipment to Pakistan

Two airplanes carrying relief goods from China, have arrived in Islamabad.

The goods included N95 face masks, gloves, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical equipment.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) officials received the equipment at Islamabad International Airport.

line-945-15248325222:00pm: ‘Pakistan can collectively overcome Covid-19,’ says Qureshi

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is optimistic that the country can collectively overcome the challenge posed by Covid-19.

He said the national strategy has been discussed and all stakeholders will have to work collectively to mitigate the virus.

The foreign minister said the National Coordination Committee and National Command and Operation Centre have been established to hear input from all the provinces.

“We have to protect the masses from the virus, poverty and starvation,” Qureshi added.

Moreover, the foreign minister said despite the difficult economic crisis, the federal government has offered a stimulus package of Rs1.2 trillion.

He said under the Ehsaas Cash Emergency programme, 12 million deserving families have been offered financial assistance and funds from the PM’s relief fund will support those who lost their jobs due to the current situation.

line-945-15248325221:50pm: Dr Zafar Mirza says govt is devising a programme for nurses

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said the government is devising a developmental programme for nurses across the country.

Mirza said the Pakistan Nursing Council is committed to improving the education and training of nurses – securing job creations and workplace safety.

He said nursing educational institutions must be upgraded to ensure quality education.

line-945-15248325221:40pm: Murtaza Wahab urges parties to work together to end pandemic

Adviser to Sindh chief minister Murtaza Wahab urged the country’s political parties to work together to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Senator Murtaza Wahab responded to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s comments about the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) no longer being the federation’s party.

He said, “We were, are and always will be the federation’s party.”

line-945-15248325221:25pm: Punjab reports 301 new cases

Punjab health authorities reported 301 new cases, raising the provincial tally to 11,868.

Out of the 301 cases, 194 emerged from Lahore.

The province’s death toll has reached 211, while at least 4,452 patients have recovered.

line-945-152483252212:50pm: Punjab govt allows patients to quarantine at home

The Punjab government has announced that Covid-19 patients are allowed to quarantine at home.

The district administration of Lahore has also formed a home isolation committee and will seek services of population welfare, livestock and excise department.

line-945-152483252212:10pm: Opposition leader opposes lockdown relaxation 

Opposition Leader Raja Zafarul Haq opposed the easing of lockdown and said it has led to an increase in Covid-19 cases.

The federal and provincial governments must be on the same page to curb the spread of the virus, he added.

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12:00pm: SAPM on Health Dr Zafar Mirza addresses the media

line-945-152483252211:40am: NCOC meeting in progress

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) meeting is underway, chaired by Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar.

The meeting will discuss the safety of healthcare workers, the opening of shops and markets with adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs) and timing, and the categorisation of labs in terms of performance.

line-945-152483252211:20am: Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar addresses media in Lahore

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11:00am: Punjab CM says govt took timely decisions

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said the government took timely decisions to contain the spread of the virus.

The chief minister said this is the time for public service, adding that the opposition tried to disrupt the national solidarity amid the pandemic.

line-945-152483252210:30am: Fawad Chaudhry says NA members must be briefed about Covid-19

Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry has written a letter to National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri pertaining to sessions amid the pandemic.

He said political speeches are a waste of time and can be done by holding a press conference as well, adding that NA members must first be briefed about the virus.

 

line-945-15248325229:40am: Sindh young nurses to boycott work from today

The Sindh Young Nurses Association (SYNA) has said they will be boycotting work at hospitals in order to stage a sit-in outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC) from today.

SYNA president Aijaz Kaleri maintained that though the nurses in the province had been putting their lives at risk due to Covid-19, the provincial health department continued to deny them coronavirus risk allowances or health professional allowances.

Read more here

line-945-15248325229:00am: Nationwide tally at 32,081

After Pakistan reported 1,140 new cases, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases jumped to 32,081.

39 new deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, raising the country’s death toll to 706, while at least 8,555 patients have recovered.

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8:15am: Federal cabinet to meet today

Prime Minister Imran Khan has called a meeting of the federal cabinet to review steps taken by the government to contain the spread of the virus.

The meeting will also discuss the impact of the virus on the economy.

line-945-15248325227:00am: Special PIA plane repatriates 19 stranded Pakistani nationals

A special Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight from Norway has arrived in Islamabad.

19 stranded Pakistanis departed from Oslo Airport and arrived at Islamabad International Airport early morning.

According to sources, 19 passengers and 18 crew members were quarantined.

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