May 31: Pakistan witnesses another surge in Covid-19 cases as tally soars to 71,111

With over 100 fatalities in 24 hours, virus death toll stands at 1,520

​ Our Correspondents May 31, 2020
People line up at a pharmacy following the government announcement to lockdown in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

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 6 million people in 202 countries and territories of the world – and over 370,000 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 71,111 with 25,056 cases in Punjab, 28,245 in Sindh, 10,027 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 4,293 in Balochistan, 711 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 2,418 in Islamabad and 261 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The virus has claimed at least 1,520 lives while about 25,271 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-945111:40pm: Balochistan records one more death, 200 new Covid-19 cases in 24 hours

The Balochistan health department, in its daily situational report, has confirmed one more death due to coronavirus in the past 24 hours to bring the provincial death toll to 47.

It also reported 200 new cases of Covid-19 to raise the province’s tally to 4,393.

1,505 patients have recovered from the highly contagious disease in the province.


10:50pm: Transporters delay reopening in Karachi

A day after announcing that transporters would resume intra-city services from Monday, Karachi Transport Ittehad (KTI) president Irshad Bukhari postponed the reopening of public transport in the city on Sunday.

The decision came after Karachi commissioner Iftikhar Ali Shallwani met a delegation of transporters earlier in the day.

Story here


10:45pm: Covid-19 entering third phase, says expert

Coronavirus is rapidly entering its third phase, known as the ‘Lag Phase,’ claimed Pakistan Infection Control Society president Prof Rafiq Khanani on Sunday.

Stating that the transmission of the virus had been aggravated in this phase due to the carelessness exhibited by people in the last 10 days of Ramazan, Dr Khanani stressed that with over 3,000 infections reported in the country within a day, matters had become alarming both for the public and the government.

Read more here


10:20pm: Two inmates succumb to coronavirus in Karachi

Karachi Central Jail reported its first Covid-19 fatality on Saturday night, with an inmate succumbing to the disease, while the virus also claimed the life of another prisoner incarcerated at the Malir district jail on Sunday.

Over 450 prisoners at Karachi Central Jail had earlier tested positive for the contagious disease. Of them, 150 were said to have recovered on Sunday after receiving fresh screening results.

Story here


8:00pm: May the deadliest month for Covid-19: Sindh CM

May has proved to be the deadliest month so far in terms of Covid-19 deaths, remarked Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Sunday, as he reported that the coronavirus had claimed 16 more lives in the province while 885 new cases were detected over the past 24 hours.
“The first infection-related death was reported in March, which saw total nine deaths of Covid-19 patients, followed by 109 in April,” he said, adding that in May, 363 patients succumbed to the virus, making it the deadliest month yet.

Read more here


7:30pm: Sindh CM orders inquiry into attack on doctors

Taking the notice of the assault on the medical staff of the Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi on Friday night, Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Murad Ali Shah has ordered an immediate inquiry into the incident, said Sindh Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah on Sunday.

A charged mob had vandalised the hospital and attacked the hospital staff, reportedly angered by the death of a patient and delays in handing over the body after due procedures.

“Our doctors, nurses, and paramedics are risking their lives to save the lives of others. Such violence against them will not be tolerated,” he said. “If people had a grievance against the medical staff, they should have talked to the administration instead of attacking them.”

Full story here


7:20pm: G-B reports 33 new cases to raise Covid-19 tally to 711

The Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) health department has confirmed 33 new cases of coronavirus to bring the total number of patients to 711 in the region.

Out of 33 new cases, 19 were reported from Gilgit, three from Nagar and 11 from Skardu.

Six more patients – three each from Gilgit and Astore – recovered from the disease in the region.

The virus has claimed 11 lives while 496 patients have recovered in the region so far.


7:05pm: Sindh govt denies rumours of stricter lockdown

Sindh government spokesperson Barrister Murtaza Wahab denied prevailing rumours regarding a stricter lockdown and closure of shops in a video statement issued on Sunday.

Asking citizens not to scare those around them through misinformation, he appealed to the people not to pay heed to any rumours until the government made official announcements.

He pointed out that as a result of the fear of a tighter lockdown, people were rushing to the markets while ignoring precautionary measures against the novel coronavirus, which could be extremely dangerous.

Details here


6:55pm: ‘National emergency app’ to assist in providing medical aid to Covid-19 patients

National Information Technology Board (NITB) CEO Shabahat Ali, while speaking alongside Dr Mirza in today’s presser, said the "National Emergency APP" has been developed which will provide information to the healthcare providers about the availability of ventilators and medical aid for the Covid-19 patients.

"Using this application the medical emergency services like 1122 can take the coronavirus patient to the nearest available health facility," he said, adding that the application would help in providing prompt medical treatment to the Covid-19 patients.


6:30pm: Three more Sindh MPAs test positive for coronavirus

Three more members of the Sindh Assembly – Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Ali Khurshidi, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Shah Nawaz Jadoon and Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP’s) Noor Ahmed Bhurgri – tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday.

Their diagnosis came three days before an assembly session scheduled for June 3.

Full story here


6:15pm: 20 more die of coronavirus with 487 new cases in K-P

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa health department has confirmed 20 more casualties due to Covid-19 in the past 24 hours to bring the provincial death toll to 473.

Eight deaths were reported from Peshawar, four from Swat, two from Haripur, and one each in Mardan, DI Khan, Dir Upper & Lower, Battagram and Bajaur.

487 new cases – 78 from int'l flights center – were also reported, taking the total to 10,027.

2,912 patients have recovered while 61,970 total tests have been conducted in the province so far.


6:00pm: 20 fresh Covid-19 cases raise AJK tally to 261

As many as 21 more persons have tested positive for Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of virus infected people to 261 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), health department sources told The Express Tribune on Sunday.

168 have recovered and discharged from the hospitals.

Among the new confirmed coronavirus cases, eight are from Muzaffarabad district, two from Poonch, two from Bagh, four from Sudhnoti, one from Mirpur and four from Bhimber district.


5:25pm: No crisis despite 88 deaths in a day, says health czar

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza has said that the highest number of deaths have been reported due to Covid-19 during the last 24 hours as 88 patients succumbed to the deadly disease across the country.

"However, there is no crisis like situation in the country and there is no truth in the reports that hospitals are overwhelmed," he said while addressing a press conference in Islamabad.

Dr Mirza added that only 28 per cent of the ventilators reserved for the coronavirus patients are occupied currently "and rest vacant".


5:20pm: AGP Ltd to start selling remdesivir in Pakistan within two months

AGP Limited, a partner of Mylan NV in Pakistan, is planning to sell Covid-19 treatment remdesivir, shown to help improve coronavirus patients’ recovery, in the country within two months, Bloomberg reported.

In an interview to Bloomberg, AGP Chief Executive Officer Nusrat Munshi said the company would seek permission from the country’s drug authority to import the medicine.

Full story here


4:40: Another doctor succumbs to virus in K-P

Another doctor passed away due to the coronavirus in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, a few days after being admitted to the hospital.

Dr Aurangzeb was a pathologist at the Police Services Hospital in Peshawar and was undergoing treatment in the Hayatabad Medical Complex ICU for past three days.

Read more here.


4:15pm: Punjab records 36 more deaths, 952 new cases

Punjab health department spokesperson confirmed 952 coronavirus cases and 36 more fatalities in the past 24 hours.

A total of 475 persons have succumbed to the disease in the province.

The spokesperson added that 6,901 persons have recovered in Punjab and cautioned the public to adhere to precautionary measures to protect themselves.


3:45pm: Selected areas sealed in Skardu as virus spreads

Clifton Bridge, Benazir Chowk, and other areas have been sealed due to increasing numbers of locally transmitted cases, according to the Skardu deputy commissioner.

There is a complete ban on transport in these areas, he said, adding that people should refrain from visiting the sealed areas.

The entry of non-residents in all areas of Gilgit-Baltistan has also been restricted, he said.


3:30pm: Cases rising in rural areas due to carelessness, says Shah

Coronavirus cases are now rising in rural areas as well due to carelessness, said Murad Ali Shah.

We can defeat the disease if we remain united, he added.

Of the 885 new cases reported, 617 are from Karachi - 184 in East district, 146 in South, 127 in Central, 72 in Korangi, 46 in Malir and 42 in West.

Meanwhile, 37 new cases emerged in Sukkur, 34 in Khairpur, 27 in Ghotki, while Hyderabad reported 25, Larkana 24, Jacobabad 24, Shikarpur 16, Jamshoro 8, Sanghar 8, Mirpur Khas 5, Qambar 3, Badin 3, Shaheed Benazirabad 2, and one case each was reported in Matiari, Dadu, Tando Allahyar  and  Tando Muhammad Khan.


3:15pm: Sindh reports 16 more deaths, taking provincial toll to 481

In the past 24 hours, 16 more patients have died of the virus, said Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah. Around 4,100 tests were conducted and 885 new cases emerged, he added.

Shah said that the condition of 334 patients remains critical, even as provincial death toll reaches 481.

Meanwhile, 553 patients have recovered in the past 24 hours, taking the number of recovered patients to 13,810. The recovery rate is at 49 per cent in Sindh, says Shah.


2:50pm: K-P House Islamabad sealed as staff tests positive

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa House Islamabad has been sealed as five employees tested positive for the coronavirus, said the guest house's spokesperson.

The infected employees include security staff and drivers of K-P Governor Shah Farman, he added.

The guesthouse has been sealed indefinitely and is closed off to all guests and visitors, including public officials and citizens. Only essential staff is present at K-P House Islamabad.


2:30pm: Murtaza Wahab shuts down rumours about strict lockdown

Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab negated any rumours about a strict lockdown in the province.

In a video message, he said rumours have been circulating on social media that the government is about to impose a strict lockdown and shut down markets. Hence, people are crowding stores buying essential items.

He requested people to stop panicking about buying essential items, and instead, panic about the rise in the number of cases in Pakistan.

He urged people to take precautionary measures to contain the spread of the virus.


2:20pm: 885 test positive for Covid-19 in Sindh

Adviser to Sindh chief minister Murtaza Wahab said in the last 24 hours, 4,100 tests have been carried out and 885 persons have tested positive for Covid-19.

In a tweet, the adviser requested people to adopt social distancing and wear face masks.

line-945-15248325222:05pm: Punjab CM says we must change our lifestyles to prevent Covid-19

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said in order to prevent the virus, we must change our lifestyles.

The chief minister said it is essential to adopt precautionary measures in order to curb the spread of the virus.

He reiterated that the government is working to eradicate the pandemic permanently.

line-945-15248325221:40pm: MPA Mian Jamshed shifted to hospital

Member K-P Assembly Mian Jamshed Uddin Kakakhel was shifted to a private hospital in Islamabad after his Covid-19 symptoms worsened.

His family states that he is now out of danger, but will remain hospitalised for a few days.

line-945-15248325221:10pm: PIA plane carrying 258 Pakistanis arrives in Islamabad

A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) special flight carrying 258 Pakistanis stranded in Muscat has arrived in Islamabad.

The passengers were shifted to hotels for a medical examination, as well as 14 PIA crew members.

According to airport sources, all the passengers and crew were declared healthy.

line-945-152483252212:30pm: Govt, opposition committees formed to convene K-P Assembly

Government and opposition committees have been formed to convene the Khyber-Pakthunkhwa (K-P) Assembly.

The committees may consider convening through proportional representation in the session, using the guest gallery in the House or via video link.

K-P Assembly Speaker Mushtaq Ghani said the meeting may convene after June 15, adding that the option of proportional party representation is currently in the forefront to maintain social distancing.

line-945-152483252212:05pm: K-P health minister confident in PM's abilities to fix healthcare sector, economy 

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra said that although the coronavirus is a massive challenge, we must hold onto the silver linings.

The minister said Pakistan must fix the healthcare system and set the foundations of a more robust economy - something he is confident only Prime Minister Imran Khan can do.

line-945-152483252211:20am: 'Precaution is better than cure' must be adopted, says Shibli Faraz

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz said the saying "precaution is better than cure" must be adopted to defeat the coronavirus.

The minister said we must prove that we are a nation, not a mob.

line-945-152483252211:00am: NDMA to distribute 100 ventilators to provinces

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is distributing 100 ventilators to all the provinces for coronavirus patients.

Letters were sent to the four provinces pertaining to the distribution of 10 ventilators.

In addition, four portable ventilators are being provided.

Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) will also be provided with 10 portable ventilators.

NDMA has also arranged for the training of medical personnel to operate the ventilators.

Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) Hospital in Islamabad has already been provided with the ventilators.

coronavirus ventilators

line-945-152483252210:40am: Chitral reports first death from coronavirus

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) health authorities said the deceased was a resident of Chitral Town's Molda area.

The victim travelled from Lahore to Chitral during the month of Ramazan. He tested negative in two private laboratories.

He arrived in Chitral and was admitted to the hospital twice. After testing positive for Covid-19 at DHQ Hospital, the patient was transferred to Peshawar.

line-945-152483252210:10am: 'Those without masks may be charged with Section 188 of CrPC'

Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Hamza Shafqaat said it is mandatory to wear face masks in public.

He said anyone who is seen without a face mask will be prosecuted under Section 144 and charged with Section 188 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).


9:50am: Dr Zafar Mirza appreciates frontline workers for their services

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza thanked those on the frontline fighting against Covid-19.

Referring to them as Pakistan's pride and responsibility, Mirza took to microblogging website Twitter to appreciate their services.

line-945-15248325229:15am: Dr Zafar Mirza says face masks are mandatory for everyone

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza said face masks are mandatory for everyone while in crowded places, mosques, bazaars, shopping malls and while using public transport.

line-945-15248325229:10am: At least 400 Pakistanis stranded in the UK

Pakistan's High Commissioner in the United Kingdom (UK) Nafees Zakaria said Pakistanis stranded in the UK are being repatriated in phases.

He said at least 400 Pakistanis are still stranded in the UK.

line-945-15248325229:00am: 'Preparation of vaccine in its initial stages' 

Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said preparation of a vaccine for the treatment of Covid-19 is in its initial stages and its availability is expected by October next year.

The minister said no country can develop the vaccine single-handedly and global cooperation is needed.


8:50am: Climate minister blames masses for not taking pandemic seriously 

Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul said the government is making efforts to control the spread of the virus, but blamed the masses for not taking the pandemic seriously.

line-945-15248325228:20am: International flights from Gulf states to Peshawar to resume tomorrow 

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan said international flights from the Gulf states to Peshawar will formally resume from tomorrow.

He said the flights will repatriate stranded Pakistani nationals.

The first Saudi Airlines flight will land at Bacha Khan International Airport on Monday. The second flight will return on June 3.

On 6 June, a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will arrive in Peshawar.line-945-15248325228:05am: NDMA establishes new number to register complaints

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has operationalised another helpline for registering complaints related to the coronavirus.

NDMA spokesperson said Covid-19 related complaints can be registered by calling 0304-111-01-61.

line-945-15248325227:25am: Nationwide tally stands at 69,496 

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) reported 3,039 cases in the last 24 hours, pushing the nationwide tally to 69,496.

The virus has claimed 88 more lives, taking Pakistan's death toll to 1,483, while at least 25,271 patients have recovered.

723 patients are in critical condition.

line-945-15248325227:00am: NCOC recommends educational institutions to remain closed till August

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) meeting chaired by Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar recommended that educational institutions should remain closed till August.

The meeting also advised marriage halls to allow limited number of guests, one dish and strict compliance of standard operating procedures (SOPs).

The meeting sought feedback of provinces to finalise recommendations for opening more sectors of the economy, while analysing short term and long term strategy on Covid-19.

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