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 4.3 million people in 202 countries and territories of the world – and over 295,000 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.
Nearly one and a half months after imposing the lockdown across the country, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced to ease the lockdown in phases.
The nationwide tally of Covid-19 patients stands at 36,801 with 13,561 cases in Punjab, 14,099 in Sindh, 5,423 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 2,310 in Balochistan, 482 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 822 in Islamabad and 104 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The virus has claimed at least 779 lives while at least 9,695 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.
1:49am: Karachi hospital vandalised over ‘refusal to hand over’ Covid-19 patient's body
Fear prevailed among the medical staff of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) in Karachi on Thursday soon after more than 20 enraged people vandalised an isolation ward of the hospital following the administration refused to hand over the body of a coronavirus patient immediately.
The 60-year-old patient was shifted from the Dow University of Health Sciences' (DUHS) Ojha campus to the JPMC on Wednesday in a critical condition. However, he died Thursday evening.
The mob attacked the ward located at the ground floor of the hospital after the management told them that the family cannot take the body without permission of the administration.
Family members of a patient attacked a portion of the JPMC, Karachi, damaging equipment, creating fear among doctors, nurses. At least 8 persons held. LEAs deployed outside hospital. pic.twitter.com/L3FcmxtMQe— Sameer Mandhro (@smendhro) May 14, 2020
Full story here
12:33am: Sindh to set up six infectious diseases hospitals
The Sindh government has decided to establish six new infectious diseases hospitals, one in each division, in the province. The decision was taken during a meeting chaired by Sindh chief secretary Syed Mumtaz Ali Shah on Thursday.
The chief secretary informed the meeting that establishing a 400-bed hospital in Karachi, and 200-bed hospitals in Hyderabad, Sukkur, Larkana, Mirpurkhas and Shaheed Benazirabad each would cost around Rs10 billion.
Saying this, he directed all divisional commissioners to identify sites for establishing the hospitals at their respective divisional headquarters.
Full story here
11:00pm: Sindh spends over Rs2.5 billion on Covid-19 in two months
The Sindh government spent over Rs2.5 billion of the Coronavirus Emergency Fund (CEF) and associated grants between early March and the first week of May.
The government had released Rs1.919 billion on account of special grants to health authorities, district administrations, hospitals and laboratories, while the amount released from the CEF by April 30 totalled over Rs598 million.
Of the amount released from the CEF, the lion's share of Rs133.94 million was utilised in setting up a field isolation centre at the Expo Centre, Karachi. The amount was released in seven instalments from March 22 to April 22, with the last disbursement being that of Rs100 million.
10:23pm: 71 new coronavirus cases reported in Balochistan
A total of 559 coronavirus tests were conducted in Balochistan out of which 71 were diagnosed positive during the last 24 hours.
According to provincial health department spokesman Wasim Baig, 2,310 people have contracted Covid-19 in the province so far.
He further said that 30 people have succumbed to the deadly disease.
9:00pm: Health workers to receive allowances in Sindh
The Sindh health department announced on Thursday an allowance for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers working on the frontline in the ongoing pandemic.
Meeting representatives of Pakistan Paediatric Association, Sindh Healthcare Commission (SHCC), National Institute of Child Health and Pakistan Islamic Medical Association, Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho apprised them that healthcare officials who had contracted the coronavirus would be allowed to seek treatment from private hospitals on the expense of the government.
Moreover, she stated that there had been complaints about some private hospitals demanding coronavirus test results before taking patients into the emergency wards, asserting that action would be taken against any hospitals who were refusing to treat patients in this manner.
Read more here
8:55pm: 10 fresh cases of coronavirus take AJK tally to 104
The total number of virus-infected patients has reached 104 as 10 members of two different families tested positive for Covid-19 in Muzaffarabad, a spokesperson for Azad Jammu and Kashmir government confirmed on Thursday.
8:12pm: PM Imran joins world leaders’ demand for free virus vaccine for all
Prime Minister Imran Khan joined the ranks of 140 world leaders, past and present, who insisted on Thursday that any eventual Covid-19 vaccines and treatments should be made available to everyone, free of charge.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and former Pakistani prime minister Shaukat Aziz were among the signatories of a letter to the World Health Assembly (WHA), saying any vaccine should not be patented, while the science should be shared between nations.
The WHA is the policy-setting body of the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO), which will hold its annual general meeting next week. The letter comes amid fury in France after pharmaceutical giant Sanofi said it would reserve first shipments of any Covid-19 vaccine for the United States.
Read more here
8:06pm: SIUT faces surge of comorbid Covid-19 patients
The Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) has recently witnessed a surge of Covid-19 infection in dialysis, transplant and cancer patients at the hospital, revealed a spokesperson on Thursday.
These patients are immunosuppressed and therefore more susceptible to coronavirus, explained the spokesperson, adding that with the admission of 55 new patients last week, the hospital’s capacity had been overwhelmed.
He stated that currently, SIUT was providing treatment to 41 dialysis patients with coronavirus, with at least two new patients being diagnosed each day. Meanwhile, around 22 Covid-19-positive transplant patients are being treated vigorously, including high regimen immunosuppression.
Read more here
6:22pm: Balochistan bans Youm-e-Ali processions amid coronavirus fears
Amid the ongoing coronavirus induced lockdown, the Balochistan government has imposed a ban on Youm-e-Ali processions across the province, which is to be held tomorrow (Friday) to commemorate the birth of Hazrat Ali (RA).
The notification issued on Thursday said the provincial government had already banned all kind of religious gatherings and directed all auhtorities concerned to engage with all Shia Ulemas to apprise them about the decision.
4:45pm: Pakistan Railways' assistant engineer succumbs to virus
An assistant engineer in the Pakistan Railways succumbed to the virus in Lahore. He was undergoing treatment at a hospital in the provincial capital.
4:30pm: Education minister addresses the media
4:00pm: New cases emerge in K-P
Provincial authorities said 171 new cases have emerged in the province.
171 new cases reported taking the total confirmed cases to 5,423 in KP. 9 new deaths were reported (4 Peshawar, 1 each in Charsadda, Mardan, Swabi, Malakand, Swat) taking the total to 284. 113 new patients recovered taking the tally to 1,505 in KP. Active cases at 3,634. pic.twitter.com/v7b3MHLntS— Health Department KP (@HealthKPGovt) May 14, 2020
3:10pm: 989 healthcare workers affected by Covid-19
A total of 989 healthcare workers across the country have contracted the virus, out of which 12 have lost their lives.
According to the National Emergency Operations Centre, 517 doctors, 155 nurses and 317 others tested positive.
2:30pm: Punjab reports 336 cases
Punjab health authorities reported 336 new cases, raising the provincial tally to 13,561.
The province's death toll stands at 223, while at least 4,636 patients have recovered.
145,577 tests have been carried out in Punjab.
2:00pm: Punjab govt bans religious processions
The Punjab government has banned all religious processions planned on the occasion of Youm-e-Ali on Friday.
Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Operations Lahore Rai Babar Saeed said police will ensure strict implementation of government orders.
He further stated that imambargahs are allowed to hold limited majalis, in accordance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the government
1:55pm: Sindh reports 758 new cases
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah reported 758 new cases and nine more deaths in the province.
Out of the 758 new cases, 555 emerged from Karachi.
The province's total number of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at 14,099 and the death toll has reached 243.
In the last 24 hours, 4,408 tests have been carried out.
1:35pm: Sindh govt announces decision to cancel board examinations
The Sindh government has made the decision to cancel matriculation and intermediate examinations and promote students to the next year.
Sindh Education and Labour Minister Saeed Ghani said students will be promoted after amendment in the Consitution.
"The decision of cancelling board exams will be announced after the meeting of the steering committee," he said, adding that it would be implemented after the change in legislation.
1:15pm: PIA announces more flights to Europe
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has announced more flights to Europe to repatriate stranded Pakistani nationals.
The flight from Islamabad to Barcelona will depart May 17, Lahore to Frankfurt on May 19 and Islamabad to Milan on May 22.
12:55pm: Meeting to review implementation of SOPs to be held
A meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan will be held today to review the implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the government.
Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar will brief the meeting.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) officials will also be present.
12:40pm: Over Rs101 bn distributed to those affected by Covid-19
Under the Ehsas Emergency Cash programme, the federal government has distributed over Rs101 billion to at least 8,200,000 families across the country.
12:30pm: Several markets in Lahore sealed
Several markets in Lahore have been sealed for violation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the government to curb the spread of the virus.
Barriers were placed outside Shah Alam Market and police shuttered Anarkali Bazaar as well.
Announcements were made on loudspeakers to go back home and 10 teams have been formed to collect samples from shopkeepers to test for the virus.
12:10pm: Senate session in progress
A session of the Senate is underway to discuss the Covid-19 developments in the country.
11:40am: PIA to repatriate stranded Pakistanis in Riyadh
A special Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight will depart from Riyadh to Lahore and bring back stranded Pakistani nationals today evening.
The passenger check-in process has started at Riyadh Airport and PIA officials are providing face masks to the passengers.
11:00am: Inter-provincial education ministers to meet today
A conference of inter-provincial education ministers will be held today to discuss federal and local educational boards.
All educational boards have been asked to submit recommendations to the Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood for promoting students.
However, no consensus has been reached pertaining to the promotion of private students. 35-40 per cent of the 4,000,000 enrolled students are private candidates.
10:30am: MQM-P's Mangla Sharma tests positive
Mangla Sharma of Muttahida Qaumi Movement - Pakistan (MQM-P) and her husband have tested positive for Covid-19.
She said both of them are asymptomatic patients, adding that they were tested before travelling out of the city and the results came back positive.
10:00am: Balochistan finance minister tests positive for Covid-19
Balochistan Finance Minister Zahoor Buledi has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The minister said he is asymptomatic and is currently in self-quarantine as per doctor's instructions.
I’m grateful to all friends, well-wishers & supporters who prayed for my early recovery after my Covid-19 test came +ve. I’m in self-quarantine as per doctors guidelines. Alhamdulillah, asymptomatic and recovering. Thanks to all.
— Zahoor Buledi (@ZahoorBuledi) May 13, 2020
9:20am: K-P health minister says doctors should not worry about their rights amid pandemic
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra said doctors should not have to worry about their rights while fighting a pandemic.
The minister said he met a group of senior MTI doctors, who were previously government employees, with a longstanding issue on pensions.
"After problem-solving with the relevant committee, this issue stands resolved," Jhagra wrote.
Met a group of senior MTI doctors, previously govt employees, with a long standing issue on pensions.
As committed, after problem solving with the relevant committee, this issue stands resolved.
Doctors should not have to worry about their due rights while fighting a pandemic. pic.twitter.com/W1ZYzShmyp
— Taimur Khan Jhagra (@Jhagra) May 14, 2020
8:50am: Nationwide tally stands at 35,791
Pakistan reported 396 new cases, taking the nationwide tally to 35,791.
In the last 24 hours, 33 persons succumbed to the virus. Pakistan's death toll stands at 770, while at least 9,695 patients have recovered.
13,051 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours.
8:20am: China sends relief goods to Pakistan
Ambassador of Pakistan to China Naghmana Hashmi said two special planes carrying relief goods departed from Shanghai and Chengdu for Pakistan early today.
Two special ✈️from Shanghai & Chengdu with #COVID19 relief items for #PAK left early this morning further strengthening 🇵🇰🇨🇳iron friendship.@CPEC_UPDATE @CPEC_Official @appcsocialmedia @ForeignOfficePk @AsimSBajwa @Asad_Umar @SMQureshiPTI @Gwadar_Pro @zlj517 pic.twitter.com/195OD5yUGK
— Amb Naghmana Hashmi (@AmbNaghmanaHash) May 14, 2020
8:00am: PM Imran to brief international community about Covid-19 in Pakistan, discuss debt relief proposal
Prime Minister Imran Khan will participate in a meeting to be organised under Covid Action Platform of the World Economic Forum (WEF), said Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
The foreign minister said the premier will brief the international community about the situation in Pakistan, while discussing the debt relief proposal for developing economies.
Pakistan is taking all steps to contain the spread of the virus despite its limited resources, he added.
7:30am: Information minister urges people to follow SOPs
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz said the government will take strict measures for the lockdown if people violated standard operating procedures (SOPs).
He urged the masses to follow the SOPs issued by the government to curb the spread of the virus.