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 4.5 million people in 202 countries and territories of the world – and over 310,000 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 39,742 with 14,201 cases in Punjab, 15,590 in Sindh, 5,847 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 2,544 in Balochistan, 527 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 921 in Islamabad and 112 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The virus has claimed at least 866 lives while at least 10,880 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.
12:09am: Four more Covid-19 cases raise AJK tally to 112
The Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Health Department has confirmed four new coronaviruses cases – three in Muzaffarabad and one in Mirpur – to bring the total number of Covid-19 patients to 112 in the state.
The virus has claimed one life while 76 patients have recovered in the state so far.
12:00am: PM office staff among other govt employees test positive for Covid-19
Some employees of the Prime Minister and other important government offices have tested positive for Covid-19, PM’s aide Shahbaz Gill confirmed in a tweet on Saturday.
Responding to the media reports, Gill said the staff members of important offices are screened for coronavirus as per the “routine practice” and some of them tested positive for coronavirus and have already been quarantined.
He also clarified that none of the infected employees have been in direct contact with any “high-profile personality”.
یہ ایک معمول کی ایکٹویٹی ہے جس میں وزیراعظم آفس اور تمام دوسرے اہم دفاتر کے سٹاف کا ریگولر چیک اپ کیا جاتا ہے۔ چند ملازمین کا کرونا ٹیسٹ مثبت آیا ان کو پہلے ہی قرنطینہ کر دیا گیا ہے۔مثبت ٹیسٹ آنے والے ملازمین میں سے کوئی بھی براہ راست کسی بھی اہم شخصیت کے ساتھ منسلک نہ تھا۔ pic.twitter.com/3BcMnuuDMK
— Dr. Shahbaz GiLL (@SHABAZGIL) May 16, 2020
11:45pm: Federal govt announces six-day holiday for Eidul Fitr
The federal government has announced a six-day holiday for the upcoming Eidul Fitr, starting May 22 (Friday) till May 27 (Wednesday).
The Ministry of Interior in a notification issued on Saturday said all markets, public places and other non-essential businesses will remain closed during the Eid holiday amid the coronavirus outbreak.
However, essential shops, medical services and other emergency services will continue to remain operational, said the official notification.
Read more here
9:57pm: Health workers protest assault on JPMC doctor in Karachi
Doctors staged a demonstration at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) on Saturday after a doctor was assaulted the previous night, demanding stern action against those responsible for the attack.
Dr Raja Shakeel was reportedly attacked by the attendants of a deceased Covid-19 patient admitted to JPMC’s emergency ward while he was treating another patient.
Read more here
9:45pm: Balochistan reports five more deaths, 87 new Covid-19 cases
The Balochistan Health Department, in its daily situational report, has confirmed five more casualties due to coronavirus in the past 24 hours to bring the provincial death toll to 36.
It also reported 87 new cases of Covid-19 to raise the province’s tally to 2,544.
417 patients have so far recovered from the disease in the province.
9:35pm: Govt reopens Pak-Afghan borders to resume bilateral transit trade
The federal government has decided to open border crossings with Afghanistan for 24 hours a day and 6 days a week to allow bilateral/transit trade, which were closed following the Covid-19 outbreak in March.
In a notification issued on Saturday, the Ministry of Interior said Torkham and Chaman borders will remain open for 24 hours for six days except Saturdays throughout the week and unlimited number of trucks will be allowed to cross while ensuring standard operating procedures (SOPs) and guidelines to stem spread of coronavirus.
8:40pm: G-B reports nine more Covid-19 cases to raise tally to 527
The Gilgit-Baltistan Health Department has confirmed nine more cases of coronavirus to raise the region’s tally to 527.
Health officials said three more patients recuperated from the mysterious disease in the past 24 hours to bring the total number of recoveries to 348.
Out of nine new cases, seven were reported from Ghizer and one each from Astore and Skardu.
Number of active cases stands at 175 in the region.
6:10pm: K-P reports 14 more deaths, 169 new Covid-19 cases in last 24 hours
The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Health Department, in its daily situational report, has confirmed 14 more casualties due to coronavirus in the past 24 hours to bring the provincial death toll to 305.
Out of 14 deaths, seven were reported from Peshawar, three from Swat, and one each in Lower Dir, Mardan, Kohat and Bajaur.
169 new cases – seven from International flights quarantine center – were also reported, taking the total to 5,847 in the province.
86 more patients have recuperated from the mysterious disease to bring the total number of recoveries to 1,699. Number of active cases stands at 3,843 in the province.
169 new cases confirmed (7 from Int'l flights quarantine center) taking total to 5,847 in KP. 14 new deaths were reported (7 Peshawar, 3 Swat, 1 each in Lower Dir, Mardan, Kohat, Bajaur) taking total to 305. 86 new patients recovered taking tally to 1,699. Active cases at 3,843. pic.twitter.com/XxnnODZP8E
— Health Department KP (@HealthKPGovt) May 16, 2020
5:30pm: Pakistan conducts highest number of Covid-19 tests over 24-hour period, NCOC informed
Pakistan conducted the highest number of tests per day during the last 24 hours, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) was informed on Saturday.
A total of 14,878 tests were conducted by health authorities across the country on Friday.
During an NCOC meeting, headed by Minister for Planning Development Reforms and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, satisfaction over the increase in testing capacity was expressed. Capacity has increased by around 30 times. The country had two labs to test Covid-19 samples in mid-March and now has 70 laboratories.
Read full story here
4:30pm: Highest number of tests conducted
Pakistan conducted the highest number of tests per day during the last 24 hours, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) was informed.
A total of 14,878 tests were conducted by health authorities across the country on Friday.
4:00pm: Information minister addresses the media
Information Minster Shibli Faraz and SAPM Shahzad Akbar briefing media in Islamabad https://t.co/J3wACFlBzA
— Radio Pakistan (@RadioPakistan) May 16, 2020
3:20pm: Punjab reports 287 new cases
Punjab health authorities reported 287 new cases. The province’s tally stands at 14,201.
The province’s death toll is 245, while at least 4,757 patients have recovered.
2:30pm: K-P extends lockdown till May 31
The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has extended the lockdown till May 31.
Adviser to K-P Chief Minister on Information and Public Relations Ajmal Wazir said in addition to government offices, all other offices will remain closed as well.
The adviser said all public transport will resume from Monday, following standard operating procedures (SOPs) as issued by the government, adding that the district administration and transport authorities will ensure implementation.
According to the decision of the Task Force, barber shops will remain open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, he added.
In the last 24 hours, K-P reported 255 new cases and seven deaths.
1:40pm: Railway minister says to ensure SOPs are followed
Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed ordered officials to ensure standard operating procedures (SOPs) are followed incase operations resume.
1:20pm: Sindh reports 674 new cases
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah reported 674 new cases, taking the provincial tally to 15,590.
The chief minister said 13 more patients lost their lives, raising Sindh’s death toll to 268, while at least 198 patients recovered.
The number of recovered patients in the province stands at 3,804.
490 out of the 674 new cases emerged from Karachi, the chief minister said.
4,467 tests have been carried out in the last 24 hours.
1:00pm: Domestic flight operations begin
A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight carrying 84 passengers will leave Karachi for Lahore at 1:30pm.
Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar announced that domestic flight operations will begin today.
12:50pm: Punjab govt chalks out strategy to combat Covid-19
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said the provincial government has planned a multi-dimensional strategy to combat the virus.
The chief minister said the government will fight the pandemic through collective efforts of the nation.
He urged citizens to behave responsibly and adopt precautionary measures, adding that strict action will be taken against those violating standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the government.
12:20pm: 58 shops sealed in Lahore
58 shops in Lahore have been sealed and 11 shopkeepers arrested for violating government orders.
Deputy Commissioner Lahore Danish Afzal said no shopkeeper will be allowed to violate the laws.
11:55am: Punjab IGP issues orders to provide Eid packages to martyrs
Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Shoaib Dastagir has issued instructions to provide an Eid package to those martyrs who died in the fight against the pandemic.
A letter has been sent to all Regional Police Officers (RPO), District Police Officers (DPO) and Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Lahore Zulfiqar Hameed to complete the distribution of Eid gifts to the families of those martyred.
Punjab IGP has ordered the police to visit the homes and deliver the gifts which include Rs5,000 and a bag of ration.
11:40am: China donates medical supplies worth Rs36m to Pakistan
The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) has donated medical supplies worth over Rs36 million to Pakistan.
The medical supplies were donated to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and included 60,000 surgical masks, 50,000 KN95 masks, 4,000 testing kits, and ventilators.
NDMA Chairman Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal thanked the ICBC and the Chinese government for helping Pakistan combat the spread of the virus by providing medical supplies.
11:30am: PIA repatriates 257 stranded Pakistanis from Iraq
A special Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight carrying 257 stranded Pakistani nationals from Iraq reached Islamabad International Airport.
Most of the stranded Pakistanis in Iraq worked for oil and gas companies and were unable to return home after international flights were suspended.
11:00am: PDMA sends medical equipment to hospitals in K-P
The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) sent medical equipment to healthcare workers of 49 hospitals across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
52,500 surgical masks, 30,519 protective suits, 20,400 gloves, 4,200 face shields, 2,100 gowns, 1,975 personal safety kits, 2,940 safety goggles, 7,918 shoes and other medical equipment was delivered.
In addition, 1,323 N95 face masks, 22,680 KN95 and 1,470 D95 masks were also delivered.
10:20am: IHC issues contempt notice to health secretary
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has issued a contempt notice to the health secretary for violating court orders amid the pandemic.
Due to the coronavirus, the IHC had ordered to adjourn all cases against medical staff. Despite the courts’ orders, the health secretary took action against a doctor.
Justice Athar Minallah questioned why such action was taken against the doctor.
“Doctors, nurses, health workers and paramedical staff are performing extra duties amid the pandemic. Taking action against them is unsuitable at this time,” he remarked.
9:10am: Nationwide tally stands at 38,799
The National Command and Operation Centre said Pakistan’s Covid-19 tally stands at 38,799.
1,581 tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hours and 31 patients lost their lives to the deadly disease.
The country’s death toll jumped to 834, while at least 10,880 patients have recovered.
In the last 24 hours, 14,878 tests have been carried out across the country.
8:40am: ISPR releases documentary on PPEs
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) has released a special documentary for doctors, nurses, paramedics and other healthcare workers – spreading awareness on the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) at hospitals.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza launched the documentary in Islamabad.
The documentary noted guidelines on the selection and use of PPEs at health facilities throughout the country, as well as discouraging unnecessary use of the protective gear.
8:00am: Partial domestic flight operations to resume today
Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar said partial domestic flight operations will begin today.
The minister said the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Serene Air will resume their flights for Karachi, Lahore, Quetta and Peshawar.
Each passenger will be thoroughly screened, their body temperature will be checked and face masks and hand sanitiser will be provided, Sarwar said.