June 13: Govt prepares support package for health workers as Covid-19 tally hits 129,236

With 107 fatalities reported in the past 24 hours, death toll rises to 2,496

​ Our Correspondents June 12, 2020
A man wearing a protective face mask rides a motorbike, as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Karachi, Pakistan June 11, 2020. REUTERS

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI/LAHORE/PESHAWAR/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 7.2 million people in 202 countries and territories of the world – and over 410,000 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 129,236 with 47,382 cases in Punjab, 49,256 in Sindh, 16,415 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 7,866 in Balochistan, 1,044 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 6,699 in Islamabad and 574 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The virus has claimed at least 2,496 lives while around 40,247 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.

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12:14am: K-P Assembly Speaker Mushtaq Ghani tests positive for Covid-19

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly Speaker Mushtaq Ghani has tested positive for novel coronavirus, joining the long list of lawmakers diagnosed with the respiratory disease.

He underwent the test after experiencing the Covid-19 symptoms, result of which came positive on Friday. His daughter and son-in-law have also tested positive for the virus.

Ghani, in a statement, said he has gone into self-quarantine at home and requested the nation to pray for his early recovery.

PHOTO: PPI/FILE

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10:57pm: Karachi hospitals to get 500 oxygenated beds amid rise in Covid-19 cases

As the coronavirus tally inched closer to 50,000 and the contagion claimed 17 more lives on Friday in the province, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah announced the disbursement of 500 oxygenated beds to six hospitals in Karachi.

The beds are being provided by the National Disaster Management Authority.

Presiding over a meeting with health department officials and others, the CM said that 72 intensive care unit (ICU) beds and 428 high dependency unit (HDU) beds would be provided to six of the government hospitals in the metropolis, so that every public hospital could have ICU and HDU beds.

Read more here

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10:45pm: Covid-19 takes steam out of National Assembly budget ruckus

Despite low attendance in the National Assembly session on Friday because of the Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place, opposition lawmakers still managed to create a ruckus as the budget for 2020-21 was being presented in the house.

Nevertheless, it was a far cry from the usual hullaballoo that is the hallmarks of such sittings in the past.

Only 86 members (one-fourth of the total 342-member house), 46 from the treasury and 40 from the opposition, were allowed to participate in the session, leaving the spacious hall of the lower house of parliament with lots of empty seats.

As Industries Minister Hammad Azhar presented the budget for the new fiscal year, opposition benches shouted slogans and carried placards against Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was also in attendance.

Loud slogans against the premier and table-thumping by the opposition members was witnessed as Azhar highlighted the PTI-led government’s efforts to streamline the economy.

Read more here

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9:45pm: 14 new cases take G-B’s Covid-19 tally to 1,044

The Gilgit-Baltistan health department has confirmed 14 new cases of coronavirus to bring the region’s tally to 1,044.

The virus has killed 16 people while 676 patients have recovered in the region so far. Active cases stand at 352.

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8:50pm: Five more succumb to Covid-19 with 193 new cases in Balochistan

Health officials in Balochistan have confirmed another four fatalities due to coronavirus in the past 24 hours to bring the provincial death toll to 80.

They also reported 193 new cases of Covid-19 to raise the province’s tally to 7,866.

2,722 patients have so far recovered in the province.



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8:30pm: K-P reports 10 more deaths, 628 new cases of Covid-19 in 24 hours

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa health department has confirmed another 10 casualties due to coronavirus in the past 24 hours to bring the provincial death toll to 642.

Four deaths were reported from Peshawar, two from Abbottabad, two from Battagram, and one each from Kohat and Dir Lower.

628 new cases were also confirmed, taking the total to 16,415.

163 more patients recovered to raise the tally to 4,072.

A total 95,112 tests have been conducted in the province till now.



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6:58pm: One more die of Covid-19 as 40 new cases raise AJK tally to 574

Health officials in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) have confirmed another 40 cases of coronavirus to bring the state’s total to 574. They also confirmed one more casualty to bring the death toll to 11.

With five more patients recovering across the region, the total has reached 242.

Active cases now stand at 321.

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6:50pm: DRAP approves first made-in-Pakistan testing kit for Covid-19

The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has approved the first indigenously made testing kit for novel coronavirus, developed by the scientists at National University of Science and Technology (NUST) Attaur Rahman School of Applied Biosciences (ASAB).

The news was shared on Twitter by Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, where he congratulated the developing team.

“You people have made us proud... this will bring significant cost reduction of Covid-19 tests and will also save huge import bill,” he wrote on his official handle.



Read more here

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4:10pm: Another Sindh Assembly member tests positive

Pakistan Peoples Party MPA in Sindh Assembly Sajeela Laghari tested positive for coronavirus.

So far 22 members of the Sindh Assembly have tested positive for COVID-19.WhatsApp Image 2020-06-12 at 4.17.12 PM

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4:00pm: Sindh reports 2,428 new cases

As many as 2,428 new cases were reported in Sindh taking the provincial tally to 49,256.

A total of 17 deaths were reported in the province in the past 24 hours taking the death toll to 793.

11,356 tests were conducted in the past 24 hours, while 23,113 people have so far recovered from the virus in the province.

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3:55pm: NIH team facilitates passengers at Islamabad International Airport


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3:30pm: Funds for Covid-19 would be utilized for social protection: Dr Sania Nishatar

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation, Dr Sania Nishtar has said the funds allocated for social protection are being utilized for deserving persons.

Talking to a private news channel, she said last year, Rs100 billion were allocated for social protection, while an amount of Rs144 billion was provided under Ehsaas Emergency Cash programmes.

She said Rs120 billion were disbursed among poor families.

To a question, she said funds fixed for Covid-19 programmes would also be utilized for social protection projects.
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3:10pm: Mehwish Hayat rubbishes rumours of contracting COVID-19

Pakistani superstar, Mehwish Hayat, has rubbished the rumours of being Covid-19 positive.

The Load Wedding star, on Thursday, took to Twitter and slammed a tabloid for sharing that she has been tested positive for coronavirus.

“Not true,” she said, adding, “I just wish that our media would be more responsible and check their facts before posting such stories.”

Read story here

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3:00pm: Rawalpindi Assistant Director Education passes away

Rawalpindi Assistant Director Education Waqar Satti passed away on Friday after contracting coronavirus.

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2:30pm: Punjab Minister for Information Fayyaz ul Hassan Chohan talks to the media in Lahore

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2:15pm: Govt prepares support package for frontline health workers

The government has prepared a comprehensive support package for frontline health workers fighting Covid-19.

This was stated by Special Adviser to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza while briefing the media about the upcoming package in Islamabad on Friday.

He said the doctors, nurses and other paramedics who are working in emergencies, quarantine and isolation centers caring the patients of coronavirus are our national heroes and their protection is the main responsibility of the government.

He said the package has been prepared after a week-long consultation with health experts from all over the country. He said the federal and provincial governments will be responsible at their level to implement the package.

The adviser said the package consists of 7 points including financial support, security, training, care, healthcare, private health supports and recognition at national level.

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2:00pm: PM inquires about Sheikh Rashid’s health

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday called Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed to inquire about his health.

The railway minister had announced that he had tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday.

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1:45pm: Former Additional IG Punjab losses battle against coronavirus

Former Additional IG Punjab Major (retd) Mushtaq passed away on Friday after contracting coronavirus.

Mushtaq had was also conferred upon with military awards.2049859-majormushtaq-1591936049-827-640x480

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1:10pm: Advisor to CM K-P on Information Ajmal Wazir briefs media



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12:50pm: Interior minister appeals to masses to strictly follow SOPs

Interior Minister Ijaz Shah has appealed to the people to strictly follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in order to stifle the spread of COVID-19.

In his media briefing at National Command and Operation Center in Islamabad on Friday, he said the Prime Minister has taken strict notice of the violations of SOPs and directed the provinces to ensure their compliance.

The interior minister said action has been taken against those not following the precautionary measures but stressed that the government and law enforcement agencies alone cannot control the situation until and unless the people extend their cooperation.

Ijaz Shah said we can rid the country of the disease with collective efforts and unity.

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12:30pm: Former Speaker National Ayaz Sadiq contracts Covid-19

Another PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq tested positive for coronavirus.

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and leader Ahsan Iqbal tested positive for the virus a day earlier.

Taking to Twitter, the PML-N president wished the former NA speaker a speedy recovery.


Read story here
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12:20pm: Dr Zafar Mirza addresses media

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11:45am: DRAP approves Pakistan first Covid testing kit

Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry announced on Friday that the drug regulatory authority had approved a testing kit manufactured in Pakistan.

He further said that this will help bring significant cost reduction of Covid tests and will also save huge import bill.

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11:30am: Smart lockdown imposed

Total smart lockdowns have been enforced at 1,279 places across the country.

In Punjab 844 lockdown were enforced having impact on a population of 15,200 people. Similarly, 414 places were under smart lockdown in K-P for a population of 11,000. 12 places with a population of 155,000 were locked down in AJK.

In ICT, nine areas including 10,000 population are under smart lockdown.

As per the notification issued by district magistrate ICT, to prevent the community spread of the Covid-19 virus sectors G-9/2 and G-9/3 in Islamabad along with Markaz Karachi Company will be sealed from 13 June 2020.

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11:15am: 1,325 shops sealed across country for violating SOPs

During the last 24 hours more than 11,231 violations of health guidelines/instructions observed across Pakistan leading to 1,325 markets and shops, 17 industries and 1,437 transport being either cautioned, fined, sensitized or sealed.

Basing on TTQ strategy total smart lockdowns have been enforced at 1,279 places across the country.

Details of violations of health guidelines across Pakistan and enforcement measures as under:

AJK

Violations – 536

Closed/ Sealed: Markets/ Shops – 57; Transport – 76

GB

Violations – 323

Closed/ Sealed: Markets/ Shops – 64; Industry – 1; Transport – 122

KP

Violations – 5,826

Closed/ Sealed: Markets/ Shops – 230; Transport – 123

Individuals fined – 1,958

Punjab

Violations – 3,516

Closed/ Sealed: Markets/ Shops – 765; Industries – 8; Transport – 980

Sindh

Violations – 646

Closed/ Sealed: Markets/ Shops – 93; Industries – 1; Transport – 19

ICT

Violations - 384

Unit Sealed; Hotel – 44; Shops – 116; Industries – 7; Transport – 117WhatsApp Image 2020-06-12 at 11.39.51 AM WhatsApp Image 2020-06-12 at 11.39.51 AM (1)

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10:30am: Confirmed coronavirus cases in Pakistan soar to 125,933

Pakistan set a new record after it confirmed 6,397 new coronavirus cases in the country over the last 24 hours taking the total tally to 125,933.

These include 47,382 in Punjab, 46,828 in Sindh, 15,787 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 7,673 in Balochistan, 6,699 in Islamabad, 1,038 in Gilgit-Baltistan and 534 in Azad Kashmir.

The death toll from the virus stands at 2,463 with 107 deaths reported over the last 24 hours. A total of 28,344 corona tests were also carried out during this period.

40,247 patients have so far recovered from the disease.

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10:15am: PTI govt set to unveil budget 2020-21

As the Covid-19 pandemic delivers a brutal blow to an already bleak economy, the Imran Khan-led government is set to announce what is being termed the 'corona budget' on June 12. Despite efforts to turn around the economy, the threat of a recession looms.

For the first time in 68 years, Pakistan’s economy is set to contract in the outgoing fiscal year due to adverse impact of the novel coronavirus coupled with economic stabilisation policies that had hit the industrial sector much before the deadly pandemic.

Read all budget stories here

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10:00 am: Covid-19 shock may increase Pakistan's debt-to-GDP ratio

The total public debt of Pakistan increased 7.6% in first nine months of the current fiscal year compared to the same period of last year, reveals Pakistan Economic Survey 2019-20.

Total public debt was recorded at Rs35,207 billion at the end of March 2020 compared with Rs32,708 billion at the end of June 2019, registering an increase of Rs2,499 billion in first nine months of FY20. Federal government borrowing for financing its deficit came in at Rs2,080 billion during the nine-month period under review.

“This differential is mainly attributable to the depreciation of Pak rupee against the US dollar, increase in cash balances of the federal government and the difference between face value (which is used for recording of debt) and the realised value (which is recorded as budgetary receipt) of PIBs (Pakistan Investment Bonds) issued during the said period,” the survey said.

Of the total debt level, Rs22,478 billion comprised the domestic debt whereas Rs12,729 billion was the external debt. Contrary to last year, most of the net domestic debt raised during first nine months of the current fiscal year was through medium-to-long-term government securities (PIBs) and National Savings Schemes (NSS), said the survey.

Even within short-term floating debt, the government borrowed mostly via 12-month treasury bills (T-bills). Resultantly, the share of three-month bills in the total T-bills portfolio shrank to around 28% at the end of March 2020 compared with around 100% at the end of June 2019.

On the external front, all of the net external debt raised in first nine months of FY20 was from multilateral and bilateral sources.

Read story here

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9:30am: Islamabad Mayor contracts coronavirus

Islamabad Mayor Sheikh Ansar Aziz took to Twitter on Friday to announce that he had contracted the coronavirus.

He further said he will be remotely monitoring the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad to ensure work was not hindered.

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9:15am: Over 57% to suffer Covid financial squeeze

Around 57% of the country’s population is economically vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and between 12.5 million to 19.1 million jobs are at stake because of the partial and complete lockdowns imposed to stem the spread of the disease, according to the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2019-20 released on Wednesday.

The government also expects a second wave of Covid-19 that “could further threaten macroeconomic stability and socio-economic outcomes”.

The higher public debt, which is currently estimated at 88%, would be “problematic” and financing for development projects might become scarce. Revenue would be difficult to increase and the expenditure demand might be immense.

Read story here

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9:00am: Countrywide Covid-19 testing capacity raised to record 26,000

More than 26,000 Covid-19 tests were conducted in the country in the past 24 hours, the highest tests in a single day since the start of the pandemic, according to statistics provided by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Thursday.

However, it was a grim day for Sindh which recorded over 3,000 coronavirus cases in a single day, overtaking the tally of Punjab to become the most affected province of the country. By Thursday evening, the nationwide tally of Covid-19 patients rose to 122,574.

Read more here

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8:45am: G-B reports one more Covid-19 death, 12 new cases

Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) has reported 12 more Covid-19 cases, taking the region’s tally to 1,030.

The virus has claimed one more life, bringing the total fatalities to 15 in the region, according to the G-B health authorities.

As many as 40 patients have also recovered from the contagious disease in the region.



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8:00am: MQM-P leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan tests positive for Covid-19

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) MPA Khawaja Izharul Hassan tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday.

His test results were revealed while he was attending the All-Parties Conference called by the Pakistan Peoples Party at the Chief Minister House to discuss the 18th Amendment and the pandemic.

Hassan, who was tested two days ago, left the conference as soon as he received the news. "I was suffering from fever for the last two days," he shared. "I have now isolated myself at my house."

Read more here

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