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 5.8 million people in 202 countries and territories of the world – and over 360,000 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 65,218 with 22,964 cases in Punjab, 26,113 in Sindh, 9,067 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 4,087 in Balochistan, 660 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 2,100 in Islamabad and 227 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The virus has claimed at least 1,364 lives while about 22,305 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.
1:30am: Govt likely to allocate Rs1,000b for Covid-19
The federal government has prepared draft for Rs7,570 billion federal budget 2010-21. The draft will be finalized in the first ten days of June and will be sent to federal cabinet for approval.
The budget will be presented in the parliament on June 12.
According to sources in the Ministry of Finance, Rs1,000 billion is also expected to be allocated for dealing with coronavirus pandemic and for providing relief to the business community.
1:00am: Virus deaths hit single-day high as BHC CJ tests positive
At least 70 people died of coronavirus across the country in the last 24 hours — the country’s highest figure in a single day – officials said on Friday as Balochistan High Court (BHC) Chief Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail and his eight family members also tested positive for the disease.
The latest casualties of the disease, including at least four doctors, have pushed the death toll past 1,350 as the nationwide tally of Covid-19 cases surpassed 64,700.
The BHC chief justice and his family have self-isolated themselves after tested positive for the virus, according to high court officials.
Further details here
11:07pm: Private schools in Sindh demand to reopen by June 15
Government and private educational institutions should be allowed to reopen by June 15 while following standard operating procedures, stated All Private Schools and Colleges Association Sindh chairperson Haider Ali on Friday.
Ali claimed that the management and compliance for the SOPS "did not require any rocket science," adding that sanitisers, disinfectants, thermal guns and face masks could be arranged in every school and college.
He insisted that social distancing could also be practices at schools by dividing students in two shifts, further saying that students would not need breaks for recreation when they only spent a limited amount of time at their school or college.
According to him, students with coronavirus symptoms could be given leave, while SOPs could also be defined separately for school vans.
Read more here
10:30pm: Balochistan reports three more deaths, 159 new cases of Covid-19
The Balochistan health department, in its daily situational report, has confirmed three more casualties due to coronavirus in the past 24 hours to bring the provincial death toll to 46.
It also reported 159 more cases to raise the province’s Covid-19 tally to 4,087.
1,400 patients have recovered in the province so far.
8:45pm: Two more Covid-19 cases raise G-B tally to 660
The Gilgit-Baltistan health department has reported two more coronavirus cases to the raise the region’s tally to 660.
The virus has claimed nine lives while 477 patients have recovered in the region so far. Active cases stand at 174.
8:00pm: One more succumbs to Covid-19 as four cases raise AJK tally to 227
Four more persons tested positive for Covid-19 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) in the last 24 hours while one patient suffering from the virus has died. With this, the total number of infected persons rose to 227 in the state.
Coronavirus has claimed six lives while 105 patients have recovered in the region so far. Active cases stand at 116.
7:50pm: Federal govt limits office timings to 10 to 4 amid pandemic
As part of measures to contain the spread of coronavirus, the federal government has limited the office timings from 10am to 4pm during first four working days of the week while 10am to 1pm on Friday.
According to a notification issued on Friday, these timings will come into force with immediate effect and will continue till June 15, Radio Pakistan reported.
7:15pm: Federal govt directs administrative staff to reopen educational offices from June 1
7:02pm: K-P reports 13 more deaths, 225 new coronavirus cases
The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa health department, in its daily situational report, has confirmed 13 more casualties due to coronavirus in the past 24 hours to bring the provincial death toll to 445.
Five deaths were reported from Peshawar, three from Bajaur, two from Swat, and one each in Mardan, Malakand and Battagram.
225 new cases – six from Iran pilgrims and one from Torkham returnees – were also reported, taking the total to 9,067.
38 more patients have recuperated, taking the recoveries tally to 2,731 in the province.
225 new cases confirmed today (6 from Iran pilgrims, 1 from Torkham returnees) taking total to 9,067. 13 more lives were lost (5 Peshawar, 3 Bajaur, 2 Swat, 1 Mardan, 1 Malakand, 1 Battagram) taking the total to 445. 38 new patients have recovered taking tally to 2,731. pic.twitter.com/JrPwcpL0yx— Health Department KP (@HealthKPGovt) May 29, 2020
6:45pm: Schools to remain closed after June 1 in Sindh
The Sindh government has announced that all educational institutions in the province will continue to remain closed after June 1 amid Covid-19 outbreak.
In a notification issued on Friday, the education department said the date of reopening of the schools will be announced considering the coronavirus situation in the province.
It also said the students of grades one to eight have been promoted to their next classes.
4:50pm: PM’s aide fears increase in Covid-19 cases, deaths in coming days
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza has urged people not to let their guard down against the novel coronavirus as number of positive cases and deaths could increase in the country in coming days.
During a media briefing in Islamabad, he said the situation regarding availability of ventilators and beds across the country is under control. “Only 18 to 20 per cent out of total number of ventilators are in use at the moment.”
Full story here
4:45pm: International flight operations to resume from Saturday
The Civil Aviation Authority announced on Friday that it will resume its international flight operations from Saturday (tomorrow).
According to a notification issued by the Aviation Division, both national and foreign airlines shall be allowed to operate from 2359 hours tonight from all international airports of Pakistan with exception of Gwadar and Turbat.
It further stated that SOPs for outbound international flights have already been issued according to which airlines will be required to follow the SOPs of the destination country. Additionally, disinfection of aircraft will be ensured and no congestion at airports shall be allowed.
4:40pm: BHC Chief Justice Mandokhail tests positive for Covid-19
Chief Justice of Balochistan High Court (BHC) Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail and his eight family members have tested positive for coronavirus as the country’s Covid-19 tally topped 64,000 with record 57 deaths in the past 24 hours.
Mandokhail and his family members have gone into self-isolation after being tested positive, local broadcaster 24 News reported quoting high court officials.
Read story here
4:15pm: Pakistan to import remdesivir from Bangladesh
A pharmaceutical company in Pakistan plans to import the antiviral drug remdesivir, which has shown promise in treating coronavirus patients, from Bangladesh, it said in a stock exchange filing on Friday.
The announcement by Searle Company Limited came a day after 56 virus deaths recorded in the country, its highest toll in a single day.
The firm said it had entered into an exclusive licensing and marketing agreement with Bangladesh's Beximco Pharmaceuticals , the first company in the world to introduce the generic variant of the drug.
"Searle Pharma is planning to import remdesivir in finished form (ready to use) to meet the country's urgent requirements," the company told the Pakistan Stock Exchange.
Remdesivir, a drug developed by Gilead Sciences, has grabbed attention as one of the most promising treatments for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, which has killed more than 350,000 people globally.
Read story here
4:00pm: Governor Punjab Muhammad Sarwar talks to media in Lahore
Live: Governor Punjab Muhammad Sarwar talking to media in Lahore https://t.co/gMXFunmNjY— Radio Pakistan (@RadioPakistan) May 29, 2020
3:30pm: Implementation of SOPs only viable solution from prevention of coronavirus: CM Buzdar
Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has said that implementation of Standard Operating Procedures is only viable solution from prevention of coronavirus.
He said that Punjab Government has taken timely and effective measures against the pandemic.
He appealed people to support government measures for combating Covid-19 as people cooperation will yield positive results against this disease.
3:20pm: Provinces asked to share measures to combat virus through RMS
Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar has asked all provinces to share the measures and latest information through Resource Managment System with people for combating #coronavirus
During the meeting at National Command and Operation Centre #NCOC, Federal Minister for Planning @Asad_Umar has urged the provinces to share the measures and latest information through Resource Managment System #RMS with people for combating #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/Rtzm5XSdx6— Radio Pakistan (@RadioPakistan) May 29, 2020
3:00pm: Peshawar High Court to resume hearings
Peshawar High Court announced on Friday that all hearings in the high court will resume on June 1, Monday.
PHC spokesperson said that following all SOPs laid down by the government the high court will resume its work.
2:41pm: Sindh records highest single-day deaths
As many as 31 deaths have been reported from Sindh—the highest from a single province in a day since the first case surfaced in Pakistan.
The death toll in the province now stands at 427.
A total of 3,316 tests were conducted in the past 24 hours out of which 804 have tested positive taking the provincial tally to 26,113.
Out of the 804 cases, 597 have been reported from Karachi.
2:15pm: Tiger Force volunteers began delivering services to people in Peshawar
The volunteers of Tigers Force have started providing services to the people in Peshawar.
The volunteers visited different markets of the city along with the officers of District Administration and created awareness about precautionary measures against covid-19 pandemic.
They also distributed face masks among the people at various places including Ehsas program centers, banks, shops, bus stands and public parks.
2:00pm: Ajmal Wazir talks to media
Live: Adviser to CM KP on Information Ajmal Wazir Khan talking to media in Peshawar https://t.co/SAOGfF3rUG— Radio Pakistan (@RadioPakistan) May 29, 2020
1:00pm: PM Imran summons NCC session on May 31
Prime Minister Imran Khan has summoned a NCC meeting on May 31 to review the country's lockdown strategy.
Federal ministers, chief ministers and others will attend the meeting.
11:30am: Zafar Mirza says Covid-19 situation not disastrous due to govt efforts
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza has said the current Covid-19 situation is not disastrous in the country as the government took active measures to curb the spread of the disease.
10:00am: PTI Nowshera MPA tests positive for Covid-19
PTI MPA from Nowshera Mian Jamesheduddin has tested positive for coronavirus.
His son and a guard have also tested positive for the virus.
9:30am: Pakistan records highest single-day increase in Covid-19 cases
Pakistan recorded its highest number of 2,636 cases on Thursday taking the total number of cases in the country to 64,028.
As many as 22,964 cases have so far been detected in Punjab, 25,309 in Sindh, 8,842 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 3,928 in Balochistan, 2,100 in Islamabad, 658 in Gilgit-Baltistan, and 227 in Azad Kashmir.
22,305 patients have so far recovered from the virus while the death toll stands at 1,317 with 57 deaths reported during the last 24 hours.
A total of 11,931 corona tests were carried out during the last 24 hours.
9:00am: 99 patients recover from coronavirus in AJK
At least 99 people have recovered from the novel coronavirus in Azad Jammu and Kashmir so far.
According to health authorities, some 119 patients are still being treated in hospitals while Covid-19 has claimed five lives in AJK so far.
8:30am: Covid-19 not disastrous in Pakistan due to govt's effective measures: Dr Zafar
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Dr Zafar Mirza has said that the prevailing situation of the coronavirus in the country is not disastrous due to the government's effective measures.
In an interview with PTV, he said the testing capacity of coronavirus patients has been increased and that is why more patients are being reported.
Dr Zafar Mirza said the government is taking on broad the provincial governments regarding all the decisions to contain Covid-19.
The special assistant urged people to follow the Standard Operating Procedures, maintain social distancing, avoid hand shake, wear masks and gloves to keep themselves save from the virus.
8:00am: Special meeting of NCC on coronavirus to be held on June 1
Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has said that a special meeting of National Coordination Committee (NCC) on Coronavirus will be held on Monday to finalize the strategy regarding coronavirus for the month of June.
He stressed the need for devising a mechanism of providing latest information about availability of beds and ventilators in the hospitals to facilitate COVID-19 patients.
Chairing a meeting at National Command and Control Centre, he said that such information would facilitate the infected people to get admission in hospitals as per their own preference.