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 6.5 million people in 202 countries and territories of the world – and over 387,000 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 96,519 with 35,308 cases in Punjab, 36,364 in Sindh, 13,001 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 6,221 in Balochistan, 927 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 4,323 in Islamabad and 375 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The virus has claimed at least 1,974 lives while about 32,581 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.
11:40pm: Virus claims life of ninth cop in Karachi
Coronavirus claimed another police officer's life on Saturday, bringing the virus death toll among Karachi’s police force to nine.
The deceased policeman, 55-year-old Shakeel Ahmed, was deputed at the Soldier Bazar police station and had contracted the virus a few days ago.
According to Soldier Bazar SHO Qasim Rasheed, his funeral prayers were offered at Tayyaba Mosque in Saudabad and he was laid to rest in a nearby graveyard.
At least 444 police officers in the Sindh Police have been infected by the contagious disease so far, with around 112 having recovered to date.
10:40pm: Balochistan reports 445 cases to raise Covid-19 tally to 6,221
The Balochistan health department, in its daily situational report, has confirmed emergence of another 445 cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours to bring the provincial tally to 6,221.
The virus has claimed 54 lives while 2,175 patients have recovered in the province so far.
10:35pm: Covid-19 testing slows to a crawl
Ghulam Mustafa, a resident of Mehmoodabad, who began showing symptoms of Covid-19 on Monday and has quarantined himself since then, finds himself in a fix.
“When I called the Covid-19 helpline [on Monday for getting tested], I was told to wait for at least 24 hours,” he told The Express Tribune. Almost a week later, not a single official has contacted him, he complained.
Mustafa’s predicament is reflective of the difficulties numerous others are facing in getting tested for the coronavirus.
Full story here
10:12pm: Smart lockdown only option and we are pioneers of this strategy, says PM
As Pakistan witnesses a sharp rise in coronavirus cases and deaths related to the deadly virus after the easing of restrictions, Prime Minister Imran Khan has reiterated his stance on complete lockdown, saying that the only solution to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic is to implement a “smart lockdown” and adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs).
“A lockdown means collapse of the economy & in poorer countries a steep rise in poverty, crushing the poor as happened in Modi’s lockdown in India,” he tweeted on Saturday.
Full story here
9:45pm: 30 more contract coronavirus in G-B to raise tally to 927
Health officials in Gilgit-Baltistan have confirmed 30 more cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours to bring the region’s tally to 927.
The virus has claimed 13 lives while 573 patients have recovered in the region so far. Active cases stand at 341.
9:30pm: '72% Pakistanis believe Covid-19 not man-made'
Pakistanis are the strongest believers in the world that coronavirus is not being spread deliberately, according to a survey report published in the British weekly The Economist in its latest edition and shared by President Dr Arif Alvi on his Twitter handle on Saturday.
According to the survey, conducted in March this year, around 72% of the Pakistani samples believed that no foreign force was spreading the virus deliberately rather it was something that emerged naturally. Only 23% believed in the deliberate spread of the coronavirus, it added.
The survey was conducted in 28 countries, representing all regions of the world, including Switzerland, Germany, the UK, the USA, Japan, India, Malaysia, Russia, France, Italy, Korea, Turkey and others.
Read more here
8:30pm: K-P reports 20 more deaths, 542 new cases of coronavirus in 24 hours
The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) health department, in its daily situational report, has confirmed 20 more casualties due to Covid-19 in the past 24 hours to bring the provincial death toll to 561.
12 deaths were reported from Peshawar, two each in Buner, Bajaur and Battagram, and one each in Nowshera and Haripur.
542 news cases – 26 from Int'l flights – were also confirmed, taking the total to 13,001.
84 more patients have recovered taking total to 3,450 in the province.
542 news cases confirmed (26 from Int'l flights) taking the total to 13,001. 20 more lives were lost (12 Peshawar, 2 Buner, 2 Bajaur, 2 Battagram, 1 Nowshera, 1 Haripur) taking total to 561. 84 patients recovered taking total to 3,450. 76,276 total tests conducted. pic.twitter.com/2NYYa7gP8v— Health Department KP (@HealthKPGovt) June 6, 2020
8:20pm: Dr Mirza says no shortage of medical facilities for Covid-19 patients
State Minister for Health Dr Zafar Mirza on Saturday dispelled the impression of the shortage of facilities for Covid-19 patients in the country, saying that 75 per cent beds in the intensive care units (ICU) of hospitals were still unoccupied.
Dr Mirza said that only 25% of beds with ventilators were being used by coronavirus patients, while a sufficient number was available for incoming patients. “There is no shortage of beds, ventilators, or any other facility for Covid-19 patients,” he said, emphatically.
“Also, there is no shortage of PPE [personal protection equipment] kits for frontline health workers and doctors. The government is regularly providing PPE kits to 450 hospitals across the country,” Dr Mirza told a media briefing.
Read more here
8:15pm: Staff infected with Covid-19 at Tando Jam RHC
As many as three doctors and nine paramedics at a Rural Health Centre (RHC) in Tando Jam have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The hospital’s staff was tested after a doctor was diagnosed on Wednesday, with the reports released on Saturday revealing that two other doctors and nine paramedics had contracted the virus as well. The infected doctors and paramedics have been isolated at their residences.
However, the RHC has not been sealed for disinfection.
Healthcare workers at the medical facility have expressed serious concerns over continuing to work at the centre, which they argue should be sealed for some days until it can be disinfected.
While the centre’s outpatient department has been closed, the emergency and maternity wards will continue functioning and catering to patients.
7:15pm: 250 new vents handed over to hospitals throughout Pakistan: NCOC
To enhance the capacity and meet the growing demand, as many as 250 ventilators have been provided to hospital throughout the country over the past week to overcome challenges arising out of Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the details provided by the National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) on Saturday, 72 vents were provided to Punjab which would be distributed among hospitals in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan and Faisalabad.
Sindh was given 52 new ventilators that would be used for patients in Karachi and Sukkur.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa was also provided 52 ventilators which would be used in hospitals in Peshawar and Abbotabad, according to the NCOC statement.
Balochistan was handed over 20 vents which would be used in Quetta. G-B and AJk were also given 10 new vents.
The NCOC statement said that 10 vents each were also handed over to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) and Poly Clinic Hospital in Islamabad.
6:40pm: Ministers hit back at PPP chairman over Covid-19 ‘allegations’
Information Minister Shibli Faraz has said that many countries in the world have appreciated the steps taken by the federal government to deal with the crisis triggered by coronavirus.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Saturday, he said due to timely steps and comprehensive strategy formulated by the government the losses incurred due to Covid-19 in Pakistan is lower than the estimates.
He was flanked by Communication Minister Murad Saeed at the news conference.
Responding to PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto’s allegations, Saeed said the federal government extended all-out support to the provinces to cope with the coronavirus crisis.
“Sindh government did not even build a single hospital in the province where Bilawal's father [Asif Ali Zardari] could be treated,” he said, adding that the PPP chairman only criticised the federal government but “did not tell a single step his government has taken to deal with Covid-19”.
6:20pm: 30 fresh Covid-19 cases raise AJK tally to 375
The health officials in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) have confirmed another 30 cases of coronavirus in the state to raise its tally to 375.
The virus has claimed eight lives while 204 patients have recovered in the state so far. Active cases now stand at 163.
5:50pm: PPP chairman accuses PTI govt of manipulating hospital figures to 'fool people'
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that despite the lack of support from the federal government, the Sindh government is making all-out efforts to control the damage caused by Covid-19 outbreak.
"Our top priority is to increase our testing capacity and strengthen our healthcare system," he said on Saturday while addressing a press conference in Karachi.
He alleged that federal government is manipulating hospital figures to "fool people" that healthcare system in the country is not overwhelmed.
"PTI government is jeopardising the lives of masses."
4:50pm: Sindh Assembly pays tribute to doctors
Sindh Assembly pays tribute to our #frontlineworkers as honourable Members of the Assembly stand to honour doctors attending the sitting yesterday. We remain indebted to our frontline workers during this pandemic. We remain indebted. #UnitedAgainstCoronavirus pic.twitter.com/kAXERRarKm— Murad Ali Shah (@MuradAliShahPPP) June 6, 2020
3:55pm: Asad Umar says govt's priority is to slow down spread of Covid-19
Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar on Saturday said the government's foremost priority is to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.
Speaking from the National Command and Operation Centre in Islamabad, the minister said the two most essential components to slow down the pandemic are to follow precautionary measures advised by medical experts and to bring changes in our lifestyles.
The minister again urged people to adopt precautionary measures, adding that people who are not following these measures are not only risking their own lives but the lives of millions of others.
Read story here
3:15pm: Federal Minister Asad Umar addresses media
2:45pm: Sindh reports new cases
Officials have reported 1,475 new cases in the province, taking the provincial tally to 36,364 cases.
During the previous 24-hour period, 19 more people succumbed to the virus and 7,030 tests were conducted.
Read story here
2:00pm: Adviser to K-P CM on Information Ajmal Wazir addresses the media
#Live: Advisor to CM KP on Information Ajmal Khan Wazir addressing news conference in Peshawar https://t.co/r0pNmwPo5J
— Radio Pakistan (@RadioPakistan) June 6, 2020
1:55pm: Dr Zafar Mirza addresses the media
#Live: Special Assistant to PM on Health, @zfrmrza briefing media regarding Coronaviurs situation in Pakistan https://t.co/Sga762pTYa
— Radio Pakistan (@RadioPakistan) June 6, 2020
12:20pm: Murtaza Wahab says numbers of patients in ICU have risen sharply since lockdown was eased
Adviser to Sindh chief minister Murtaza Wahab said there are 198 patients in the ICU today, out of which 55 are on the ventilator and 149 on breathing support.
He said the numbers have risen sharply in the province since the lockdown was eased two weeks ago.
In #Sindh, there are 198 #COVID19 patients in the Intensive Care Unit today. Out of these, 55 are on the ventilator. There are also 149 patients on breathing support at HDUs. These numbers have risen sharply since everything was allowed to be opened 2 weeks ago.
— SenatorMurtaza Wahab (@murtazawahab1) June 6, 2020
11:40pm: Lahore shuts markets, shopping malls for two-day lockdown
All markets, bazaars and shopping malls remain closed in Lahore, after the provincial government announced a two-day lockdown.
Fruit and vegetable shops, dairy shops and bakeries remain open, as well as grocery stores.
11:25am: NDMA distributes 256 ICU, BiPAP ventilators across Pakistan
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has distributed 256 different types of ventilators across the country.
Punjab received 72 ventilators, including 36 intensive care unit (ICU) ventilators and 36 BiPAP machines.
74 ventilators were handed over to Sindh, including 26 ICU ventilators and 48 BiPAP ventilators.
Out of the 52 ventilators distributed in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 26 were ICU ventilators and 26 were BiPAP machines.
Moreover, Balochistan received 25 ventilators, out of which 10 were ICU ventilators and 15 were BiPAP.
The NDMA distributed 10 ventilators to Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), 17 to Gilgit-Baltistan and 36 to Islamabad.
11:15am: Markets, shops shut for two-day lockdown in K-P
All markets and shops will remain shut in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) as the provincial government announced a two-day lockdown.
Only meat shops, poultry shops and food shops will remain open.
Public transport and inter-district transport will remain partially operational.
10:55am: Dr Zafar Mirza shares guide for Covid-19 responders
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza shared a guide for Covid-19 responders.
“Basic Psychosocial Skills - A Guide for COVID-19 Responders” by IASC Reference Group for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support. Available here: https://t.co/K28YJHCMaP pic.twitter.com/ODr73S1ojR
— Zafar Mirza (@zfrmrza) June 6, 2020
10:30am: 'Pakistanis are highest believers that Covid-19 is not being deliberately spread'
President Dr Arif Alvi shared a picture of a survey on microblogging website Twitter that showed Pakistanis were the highest believers that the coronavirus is not being deliberately spread.
The president said everyone must believe and implement SOPs, including wearing face masks, washing hands and maintaining distance from others.
If you see dark blue 'No' column in survey below it shows Pakistanis were highest believers in the world that Coronavirus is not being deliberately spread. If we believe in reality, we must believe & implement SOPs. Wear masks, wash hands & keep social distance. Every one of us. pic.twitter.com/8I3RS4yuQg
— Dr. Arif Alvi (@ArifAlvi) June 6, 2020
9:55am: CCPO Lahore issues orders to ensure lockdown enforced today, tomorrow
Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Lahore Zulfiqar Hameed said government guidelines to fight the pandemic must be strictly enforced.
He said strict action will be taken against citizens violating government orders.
All markets and shops in the city are to be closed today and tomorrow (Sunday), and CCPO Lahore Zulfiqar Hameed has issued strict orders to divisional officers to ensure the lockdown is enforced.
He also reiterated that persons without face masks must be dealt with immediately, adding that citizens should adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the government to protect themselves and others around them.
9:20am: Zartaj Gul says prevention is better than cure
Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul said it is essential to check the increasing number of Covid-19 cases, adding that prevention is always better than cure.
9:00am: 'People not following guidelines is a global concern'
Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said the government is taking all possible measures to keep its people safe.
People not following guidelines is a global concern, he added.
8:40am: Nationwide tally stands at 93,983
The National Command and Operation Centre reported 2,527 new cases, taking the provincial tally to 93,983.
Pakistan recorded 97 deaths in the last 24 hours, as the country's death toll reached 1,935.
32,581 patients have recovered from the deadly disease, while 1,265 patients are in critical condition.
8:00am: Dr Hafeez Sheikh assures swift policy response to Covid-19
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Hafeez Shaikh has assured a swift policy response to Covid-19.
The adviser asked the international development partners and government agencies to continue to evaluate the losses suffered by the country's economy due to the contagion to help the government create a swift and robust policy response.
The government has announced its Rs1.2 trillion stimulus package to help businesses and people affected by the virus.