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 8.7 million people in 202 countries and territories of the world – and over 461,000 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 174,711 with 64,216 cases in Punjab, 67,353 in Sindh, 21,444 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 9,328 in Balochistan, 1,278 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 10,279 in Islamabad and 813 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The virus has claimed at least 3,438 lives while around 65,331 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.
11:57pm: NCOC reports highest single-day death toll of 153
The National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) was apprised on Saturday by the provincial chief secretaries of standard operating procedures (SOPS) compliance and smart lockdown implemented across the country.
The NCOC meeting chaired by Planning Minister Asad Umar, was updated on the targeted smart lockdowns, decisions and action points of the National Coordination Committee (NCC), import of oxygen and cylinders vis-a-vis disease projections, and need assessment of critical medical equipment.
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10:45pm: Balochistan reports 166 more Covid-19 cases
Health officials in Balochistan have confirmed another 166 coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, taking the provincial tally to 9,328.
They said that 100 people have succumbed to the deadly disease so far while 3,472 have recovered in the province.
10:25pm: 25 fresh Covid-19 cases take G-B tally to 1,278
Gilgit-Baltistan has reported 25 more cases on Saturday, taking its coronavirus tally to 1,278.
G-B health authorities said that 21 more patients have recovered from the disease, taking the total to 837.
They further said that 21 people have lost their lives due to the deadly disease in the region so far.
10:10pm: AJK reports two more Covid-19 deaths, 10 more cases
Health officials in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) have reported 10 more Covid-19 cases, taking the tally to 813.
They also confirmed two more fatalities due to the deadly disease, taking the death toll to 19 in the region.
336 patients have so far recovered from Covid-19 in the state.
8:40pm: 35 more patients succumb to coronavirus in Sindh
As many as 2,190 fresh coronavirus cases were reported overnight in the province, while 35 more people succumbed to the virus, revealed Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Saturday.
The number of people infected with Covid-19 in Sindh has reached 67,353, while the province’s death toll has soared to 1,048.
Shah shared that 20.2 per cent of the 10,830 samples tested on the day had turned out to be positive, whereas the ratio of the positive cases to the 364,959 samples tested to date stands at 18.2 per cent.
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8:10pm: PPP’s Murtaza Wahab tests positive for Covid-19
Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab has tested positive for Covid-19 and gone into self-isolation at his residence in Karachi, he confirmed in a statement on Saturday.
Wahab said he was in good health and did not develop any symptoms for the mysterious respiratory disease.
7:55pm: Sindh govt warns companies against laying off workers hit by smart lockdown
The Sindh government has warned against terminating or denying salaries to the employees who are unable to work due to the smart lockdown imposed in several areas of the province to curb the spread of Covid-19.
In a notification issued on Saturday, the Labour and Human Resource Department said no employee or worker should be laid off and left without salary during the course of lockdown restrictions.
It also warned that a penalty of up to Rs1 million can be imposed in case of violation.
7:20pm: K-P reports 19 more deaths, 654 new cases of Covid-19
The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa health department has confirmed 19 more casualties due to coronavirus in the past 24 hours to bring the provincial death toll to 808.
Four people die in Peshawar, as many in Bajaur, three in Swat, two each in Mardan and Malakand and one each in Charsadda, Nowshera, Abbottabad and Kohat.
Health officials also reported 654 new cases – 48 from Int'l flights – taking the province’s total to 21,444.
Moreover, another 440 patients recovered to bring the tally to 6,063.
654 new cases confirmed (48 from Int'l flights) taking total 21,444. 19 more lives were lost (4 Peshawar, 4 Bajaur, 3 Swat, 2 Mardan, 2 Malakand, 1 each in Charsadda, Nowshera, Abbottabad, Kohat) taking total to 808. 440 patients recovered taking tally to 6,063. pic.twitter.com/grbwFW8JN1— Health Department KP (@HealthKPGovt) June 20, 2020
6:00pm: Punjab imposes Section 144 to curb hoarding of oxygen-related medical equipment
The Punjab government has imposed Section 144 to curb hoarding of oxygen-related medical equipment including cylinders, pulse oximeter and profiteering from medical supplies amid sharp rise in Covid-19 patients in the province.
In a notification issued on Saturday, the home department said "malpractices" of suppliers have caused an acute shortage of oxygen for Covid-19 patients in the province.
It said strict action will be taken against those found involved in the black-marketing and hoarding.
2:30pm: Sindh reports 2,190 new cases
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah reported 2,190 new cases in the province, raising the tally to 173,856.
35 more persons succumbed to the virus, while at least 1,387 patients recovered in the last 24 hours. Sindh's death toll stands at 1,047 and recovered patients at 34,112.
Out of the 2,190 new cases, 1,315 cases emerged from Karachi.
1:20pm: Sindh information minister says movement to be restricted during lockdown
Sindh Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said movement should be restricted in certain areas during lockdown.
He urged citizens to cooperate with police and security personnel and to ensure implementation of SOPs issued by the government to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Referring to the grenade attack at the Ehsaas centre in Liaquatabad, the minister said a detailed investigation is underway, adding that the protection of life and property is the responsibility of the government.
12:05pm: Disinfection in police stations, offices underway
As per the directives of Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Lahore Zulfiqar Hameed, disinfection in police stations and police offices is underway.
12 teams are working to disinfect over 200 police buildings and the disinfectant has already been sprayed three times.
The capital city police officer said all offices are being sprayed repeatedly in phases and aims to ensure the safety of police personnel.
11:20am: Punjab reports 2,538 new cases
Punjab health authorities reported 2,538 new cases, raising the provincial tally to 64,216.
82 more persons succumbed to the virus and the province's death toll stands at 1,347.
10:45am: Medical equipment distributed among Lahore police
Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Operations Lahore Ashfaq Khan said 132,000 face masks and 12,700 hand sanitisers have been distributed among the police force.
In addition, 6,760 personal protective equipment (PPE) kits, 4,000 safety suits, 160,000 gloves and 1,100 goggles were distributed.
35,631 soaps were also distributed to the police personnel.
Police stationed in public dealing places were provided with security equipment.
10:05am: International flight operations resume
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesperson said Pakistan has resumed international flight operations to and from all international airports, except Gwadar and Turbat.
The spokesperson said permission for international flight operations would be subject to restrictions due to Covid-19 and the implementation of health guidelines.
He said cargo, special and diplomatic flights would continue to be authorised and SOPs would be mandatory for all airline operators.
9:30am: Pakistan reports highest number of single-day deaths
The National Command and Operation Centre has reported 2,876 new cases, taking the nationwide tally to 171,666.
153 persons succumbed to the virus in the last 24 hours, making it the highest number of deaths in a single-day. Pakistan's death toll stands at 3,382, while at least 63,504 patients have recovered.
9:10am: 679 cases registered for violating SOPs in Lahore
Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Lahore Zulfiqar Hameed said 679 cases have been registered for violating standard operating procedures (SOPs) across the city.
Police observed 1,303 markets and 32,925 shops and 1,782 shops were sealed for violating government orders.
19,598 shopkeepers received warnings for minor violations.
The police officer ordered all personnel to adopt precautionary measures and ensure SOPs are followed during lockdown.
8:50am: PM Imran appreciates overseas Pakistanis for helping others amid Covid-19
Prime Minister Imran Khan appreciated the philanthropic role played by the overseas Pakistani community amid Covid-19.
He said they have been a source of inspiration and have continued to help their brothers and sisters during this difficult time.
I appreciate the philanthropic role played by the Overseas Pakistani community in helping their brothers & sisters abroad during Covid19. There are many examples where the Pakistani community has been a source of inspiration, helping those around in need.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) June 20, 2020
8:20am: Pakistan to partially open airspace tomorrow
Prime Minister Imran Khan said Pakistan will partially open airspace for international flights tomorrow.
The premier said the reason for opening the airspace is to help overseas workers return home.
He said Pakistan's overseas workers have suffered the most during the pandemic and the government will facilitate them in every way.
Tomorrow we will partially open airspace for intl flights.This is being done specially to help our Overseas workers who have suffered most in this pandemic but have shown great courage & made us proud. We welcome you back home & our govt will facilitate you in every way.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) June 20, 2020
8:00am: PM Imran orders parliamentarians to spread awareness on implementation of SOPs
Prime Minister Imran Khan has instructed parliamentarians of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to create an awareness campaign for the implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the government.
He asked parliamentarians to encourage people to adopt precautionary measures, adding that it is important to raise individual and collective responsibility to contain the spread of the virus.