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. 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 5.1 million people in 202 countries and territories of the world ÔÇô and over 335,000 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.
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┬á52,047 with 18,455 cases in Punjab,┬á20,883 in Sindh, 7,391 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 3,198 in Balochistan,┬á607 in Gilgit-Baltistan,┬á1,326 in Islamabad and 195 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The virus has claimed at least 1,087 lives while at least 15,201 coronavirus patients have recovered.
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.
12:00am: 29 fresh cases raise AJKÔÇÖs coronavirus tally to 195
The health authorities in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) have confirmed 29 fresh Covid-19 cases, bringing the total number to 195.
14 cases were reported from Bagh, 10 from Muzaffarabad, three in Mirpur and two in Kotli in the past 24 hours.
94 patients of Covid-19 have recovered with one death in the state so far.
10:50pm: G-B reports five more case to raise Covid-19 tally to 607
The Gilgit-Baltistan health department has confirmed another five cases to raise the coronavirus tally to 607 in the region.
15 more patients recovered in the past 24 hours. Active cases stand at 176 in the region.
9:45pm: Balochistan reports 124 more cases to raise Covid-19 tally to 3,198
The Balochistan Health Department, in its daily situational report, has confirmed 124 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours to bring the provincial tally to 3,198.
The virus has claimed 39 lives while 762 patients have recovered in the province so far.
7:45pm: 16 more die, 236 new cases of Covid-19 reported in K-P
The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Health Department, in its daily situational report, has confirmed 16 more deaths due to coronavirus in the past 24 hours to bring the provincial death toll to 381.
Nine deaths were reported from Peshawar, and one each in Nowshera, Mardan, Bajaur, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Kohat and Lakki Marwat.
236 new cases ÔÇô 16 from Int'l flights quarantine center ÔÇô were also reported, taking the total to 7,391.
99 more patients recovered to take the tally to 2,297 in the province.
6:50pm: Shehbaz Sharif tests negative for Covid-19
Opposition Leader in National Assembly and PML-N President, Shehbaz Sharif has tested negative for Covid-19, Express News reported.
Tests of the PML-N president, along with senior party leaders, were conducted after Ata Tarrar diagnosed with coronavirus.
6:35pm: Punjab reports 1,073 more cases to swell Covid-19 tally to 18,455
The Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department of Punjab has confirmed another 1,073 cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours to swell the provincial tally to 18,455.
The virus has claimed 310 lives while 5,312 patients have recovered in the province so far.
6:00pm: Pompeo appreciates PakistanÔÇÖs ÔÇÿgoodwill donationÔÇÖ of corona PPEs to US
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has lauded PakistanÔÇÖs goodwill donation of surgical masks and protective suits to the┬áFederal Emergency Management Agency┬á(FEMA) ÔÇô an agency of the US Department of Homeland Security.
ÔÇ£This delivery is a symbol of US-Pakistan solidarity in the fight against Covid-19,ÔÇØ he said in a tweet.
Appreciate Pakistan’s goodwill donation of surgical masks and protective suits to @FEMA. This delivery is a symbol of U.S.-Pakistan solidarity in the fight against COVID-19. #WeAreInThisTogether #Partners4Prosperity pic.twitter.com/TUk3nTQZgu— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) May 21, 2020
4:00pm: China donates 8,000 food packages for Afghan refugees
The Chinese Embassy in Islamabad donated 8,000 food packages, which are to be distributed among Afghan refugees in Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The donation comes┬áunder┬áChina-Pakistan-Afghanistan trilateral cooperation efforts and is meant to assist vulnerable segments who have been hit harder during the current pandemic.
2:20pm: Doctors in Punjab to work through Eid as scheduled
Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid said that doctors will perform their respective duties in line with their schedule under the emergency plan. There will be no Eid waivers for healthcare workers, she said.
Presiding a meeting to review the┬áemergency plan for treatment of coronavirus patients during Eidul Fitr, the minister said that the Covid-19 treatment measures are being monitored by the central control room.
Dr Rashid cautioned the public to comply with all precautionary measures if they step out of their houses during Eid.
1:55pm: Sindh reports 959 new cases
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said 6,023 tests were carried out in the last 24 hours and 959 new cases have been reported.
The total number of cases in Sindh stands at 20,883.
He reported four more deaths, taking the province's death toll to 340.
The chief minister urged people to celebrate Eidul Fitr with simplicity and asked people to take precautionary measures.
1:15pm: 'Govt's top priority to protect vulnerable segments of society'
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz said despite the limited resources, it is the government's priority to protect the most vulnerable segments of society.
He said financial assistance is being provided to those affected by the virus, under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash programme, adding that a cash assistance programme for newspaper hawkers will also be launched.
The minister urged the masses to continue to take precautionary measures to curb the spread of the virus.
1:00pm: Dr Zafar Mirza says situation may worsen┬á
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza warned that the situation in the country could worsen if people┬ástop taking precautionary measures.
He said Pakistan reported 2,603 cases and 50 deaths in the last 24 hours, which is the highest in a single day.
Mirza said the country also carried out the highest number of tests in the last 24 hours.
He┬áurged the masses to follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the government for Jama-tul-Wida and Eid prayers, adding that it is mandatory for everyone to wear face masks while attending any gathering.
12:40pm:┬áDr Zafar Mirza addresses the media
#Live: SAPM on Health @zfrmrza briefing media in #Islamabad https://t.co/uHvywzJPYG
ÔÇö Radio Pakistan (@RadioPakistan) May 22, 2020
11:25am: 'Govt to ensure strict implementation of SOPs on Eid'
Adviser to K-P chief minister┬áon Information Ajmal Wazir said the purpose of the lockdown is to protect people from the virus.
Addressing the media in Peshawar, he said the government will ensure strict implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) on Eidul Fitr.
11:15am: NIH, DAFPAK conduct virtual training of Covid-19
The National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Delivering Accelerated Family Planning in Pakistan (DAFPAK) conducted virtual training of Covid-19 for doctors and paramedical staff of┬áKhanewal, Muzaffargarh, and Qasoor districts in Punjab.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) along with DAFPAK Public Sector Service Delivery conducted virtual training about COVID-19 for doctors and paramedical staff of districts Khanewal, Muzaffargarh, and Qasoor, Punjab. pic.twitter.com/LcztoE4c5J
ÔÇö NIH Pakistan (@NIH_Pakistan) May 22, 2020
11:05am: NDMA distributes medical equipment to K-P, Balochistan
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has started delivering its sixth consignment of medical equipment to all the provinces.
15,750 N95 masks, 105,833 face masks, 31,500 protective suits, 5,525 pairs of gloves, 1,015 face shields, 21,000 shoe covers and 630 safety goggles were delivered to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
7,350 N95 masks, 49,000 face masks, 7,300 protective suits, 2,450 pairs of gloves, 9,800 shoe covers, 294 safety goggles and 490 face shields were delivered to Balochistan.
The spokesperson said the distribution of goods will be complete before Eidul Fitr.
10:50am: Pakistan donates face masks, protective suits to the US
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked┬áPakistan for donating personal protective equipment to the┬áFederal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Pompeo took to microblogging website Twitter and appreciated Pakistan's donation of surgical masks and protective suits.
He said this gesture┬áis a symbol of US-Pakistan solidarity in the fight against Covid-19.
Appreciate PakistanÔÇÖs goodwill donation of surgical masks and protective suits to @FEMA. This delivery is a symbol of U.S.-Pakistan solidarity in the fight against COVID-19. #WeAreInThisTogether #Partners4Prosperity pic.twitter.com/TUk3nTQZgu
ÔÇö Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) May 21, 2020
10:15am: Punjab govt allows shops to be open till 10pm
Punjab government has allowed shopping malls, markets and commercial centres to remain open till 10pm across the province under tremendous pressure from the business community to avoid crowding ahead of Eidul Fitr.
In a video message sent to the media on Thursday, Punjab Minister for Industries, Trade and Investment Mian Aslam Iqbal announced that the Cabinet Sub-committee on Coronavirus has decided to permit all offices, markets and commercial centres to function till 10pm from Friday (today). The sub-committee has also decided to open shrines round the clock, he added.
Read story here
10:10am: Alvi says construction industry package will improve real estate sector
President Dr Arif Alvi said the construction industry package will help uplift the real estate sector, adding that it has been badly affected by Covid-19.
In a meeting with a delegation of Real Estate Consultant Association (RECA), the president said the establishment of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) would help strengthen the sector.
9:45am: Testing capacity enhanced in Balochistan
Chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal held a meeting with Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal in Quetta.
During the meeting, steps taken by the provincial government to prevent and control the situation of coronavirus came under discussion.
Chairman NDMA told the Chief Minister that the testing capacity of Balochistan is being enhanced.
9:30am: Strict SOPs in place for Jumatul Wida
Jumatul Wida, the last Friday of the holy month of Ramazan is being observed today with religious solemnity across the country.
The Friday prayers will be held as per the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) agreed between the government and the religious scholars in view of the threat posed by Covid-19.
9:05am: Nationwide tally at 50,694
The National Command and Operation Centre┬áreported that the total number of cases stands at 50,694.
In the last 24 hours, 50 deaths were reported, raising the country's death toll to 1,067, while at least 15,201┬árecoveries were reported.
372 patients are in critical condition.
16,387 tests were carried out in the last 24 hours and a total of 445,867 tests have been conducted in the country, since the start of the pandemic.
8:30am: Fourth special PIA flight departs from New Jersey
The fourth┬áPakistan International Airlines (PIA) special flight carrying 250 stranded Pakistani nationals has departed from New Jersey for Lahore.
Consul General Ayesha Ali saw off the passengers from Newark Airport and reviewed steps taken to repatriate the citizens.
The fifth special flight will depart from New Jersey┬áfor Islamabad on June 1.
8:00am: Federal govt to restore international flights┬áfrom┬áPeshawar┬á
The federal government has made the decision to restore international flights from Bacha Khan International Airport, Peshawar.
The decision was taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan, on the special request of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan.
The chief minister said the restoration of international flights will reduce difficulties faced by stranded Pakistanis returning to the country.