The COVID-19 spread in Pakistan continues to see a rapid spike with the national tally reaching 186. Sindh alone has reported 150 cases with two recoveries to date.
15 cases were tested positive in DI Khan, who were Iran returners and were quarantined at a facility in DI Khan by KP government.
The center and provincial governments are taking strong measures to curb the spread. The Sindh government has ordered all parks and public recreational facilities across the province to be shut. Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar also issued similar instructions for recreational facilities falling under the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC).
Hostels of varsities across Punjab have also been converted into quarantine centers. Punjab has prohibited hoarding of sanitizers, public gatherings under Section 144. Pakistan International Airlines has also suspended flight operations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
The country had already banned weddings & public gatherings and shut educational intuitions, western borders, and recreational places across the country among other measures a day before.
Here are the latest updates:
Jazz Announces Country-Wide “Work From Home” Policy for Two Weeks
Jazz has announced that it is implementing mandatory “Work from Home” policy for its country-wide operations, starting immediately.
Aamir Ibrahim, CEO Jazz, who is leading the coronavirus prevention drive at the company, announced this new policy in an email that’s sent to the entire company a while ago.
Despite work from home for entire company, company has business continuity plan in place, meaning that customers will continue to avail Jazz and JazzCash services during the emergency period.
Read more about it here.
‘Rising COVID-19 Numbers Shouldn’t Worry Us’ – Zafar Mirza
Prime Minister’s aide on health Zafar Mirza, while speaking to the media, has said that although the number of coronavirus cases has risen in Pakistan, people shouldn’t worry as the spread here is still at a low point compared to other parts of the world.
So far, 147 countries of the world are scrambling to control the spread, but at the same time, massive recoveries are also being reported: over 73,000 people are reported to have fully recovered so far.
He said that provinces’ response to the outbreak and overall coordination between provinces and the center were laudable. The govt. was closely monitoring the development with PM himself taking the lead, he informed.
Dr. Mirza added that about 14 labs across Pakistan had been provided with additional COVID-19 diagnostic kits. Tests using these kits will be free of cost, he said.
Coronavirus Test is Not for Everyone
He stressed that people must not insist on getting tested for COVID-19. Dr. Zafar informed that only the people with recent international travel history with symptoms, and those who came in contact with them, needed testing.
“Only those who have recently been abroad and show symptoms like fever, cough, and difficulty breathing need to be tested for the virus,” he added. “Also the ones who came in contact with such people qualify for the COVID-19 test,” he added.
For those who show symptoms, Dr. Zafar recommends to:
– Stay at home
– Isolate self from other family members
– Consult a doctor and discuss your case
– Call 1166 for instructions
The 1166 teams will guide them on the next steps.
Private Labs Performing the COVID-19 Tests
Dr. Zafar also pointed to some private labs that had announced they were equipped with COVID-19 diagnostic facility. “Some of these labs do have the right equipment while others are just fooling people with other kinds of tests,” he added.
The labs that do have the facility, the government is in negotiations with them to reduce costs. He informed that a complete list of such labs will soon be updated on the health department’s website.
Coordination with Provinces Improving
Dr. Zafar added that coordination between provinces and center was improving by the day and now with the focal person for each province designated by the respective CM, figures will be more reliable and communication more effective.
He also added that the help of rangers will be taken for improved screening of incoming travelers at all airports to minimize the risk of greater spread.
A Responsible Approach
Dr. Mirza highlighted that while the government was doing its part, it all comes down to individuals who can help limit the spread of the contagious COVID-19.
“Social distancing is the need of the time and will save us from a bad outbreak,” he added. He also stressed that no healthy person needed to wear a face mask unless they’re caring for a sick person, or have symptoms themselves. In the prior case, N95 mask with other necessary precautions is necessary, he added.
15 More Cases Test Positive in Sukkur, Another 15 in KP
Another 15 Iran returners, who are at a quarantine facility in Sukkur, are tested positive, taking the Sindh tally to 103.
On the other hands, another 15 cases were tested positive in DI Khan quarantine, confirmed KP minister.
These were also Iran returners who were being quarantined at DI Khan by KP government.
#CoronaEffect: Rs. 383 Billion Wiped Off from PSX in Worst Day in History
Pakistan Stock Exchange saw its worst day in the history today. KSE-100 index declined by 2375 points in today’s session which was the highest ever decline in history in terms of points.
It touched an intraday low of 2,442 points on Monday.
The market closed at 33,664 points, declining 6.59%, which is the highest decline in percentage terms since 20th May 2002, according to Arif Habib Ltd.
Over Rs. 383 billion was wiped off from the market during today’s session, according to Capital Stake.
You can read complete details about today’s trading here.
CAA Bans Entry of Visitors at All Airports
In an attempt to contain the spread of coronavirus, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has imposed a ban on the entry of visitors coming either to receive or see off passengers at the airports.
With this order, no visitor will be allowed to enter the airport with the passengers. The ban, which comes into effect immediately, will be applicable on all airports of Pakistan.
Not to mention, only single driver will be allowed to accompany travelers, but they too will be allowed till the parking lots.
More details here.
CM Sindh Murad Ali Shah Holds Press Conference
Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has held a press conference where he shed light on the latest developments related to COVID-19 spread in Sindh.
Speaking to the media, he informed that a total of 394 tests were performed in Sindh out of which 27 turned out to be positive and were under treatment. Two of them have already recovered and gone home.
These numbers are separate from the pilgrims who had been quarantined at Taftan, 853 of which are from Sindh. Upon their arrival, all of them were quarantined in Sukkur where the labor department’s flats are being used for the purpose.
All of these pilgrims were screened and retested for COVID-19, out of which 50 tested positive for the virus. While he was at it, 11 more coronavirus positive confirmations arrived. More test results are expected later in the day.
About 664 more pilgrims from Taftan are expected to arrive in Sindh by tomorrow and they too will undergo the same protocol, Murad informed.
He added that only one person was kept in each flat to reduce risk and exposure. However, those who test positive can share living space and will be shifted to hospitals if their symptoms show any signs of worsening.
He also informed that the government was ramping up testing facilities in the province including an increase in the number of PCR machines on which COVID-19 tests are performed.
He informed that the local transmission cases were recorded at 5 so far. Out of those who contracted the virus from outside Pakistan, 8 had traveled to Syria, 3 to Dubai, 3 to Iran, 5 to Saudi Arabia, 1 to Qatar, and 1 was from Baluchistan.
Murad said that hospitalization was not necessary for all positive cases as many of them barely show symptoms. However, home isolation is a must for such people as they can expose others to the disease.
He stressed that the Sindh government was not going for mass testing because it lacks the facility and resources for the huge undertaking, and also because the practice doesn’t warrant the curb of spread.
“Even if someone tests negative today, they can test positive tomorrow,” he said. “The real solution is care and social distancing.”
He advised citizens to stay indoors and take all precautions that are regularly communicated by authorities and medical practitioners.
Travel History of Coronavirus Patients in Sindh Revealed
CM Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah, in a press conference revealed the travel history of those who were tested positive in Sindh.
As per CM, below is the travel history of those who were tested positive with coronavirus:
- Syria: 8
- Iran: 3
- Dubai: 3
- Saudi Arabia: 5
- Qatar: 1
- Balochistan: 3 (Those coming Taftaan)
- local transmissions: 5
- Tested Positive at Sukkur Quarantine: 61
11 New Cases Tested Positive in Sukkur
CM Sindh, in a press conference, revealed that 11 more cases were tested positive in Sukkur.
These patients are those who traveled form Taftaan and were put in a mandatory quarantine.
CM said that earlier 110 tests were conducted, out of which 50 were tested positive while 60 were tested negative.
More details about the press conference will be updated in few minutes.
Dubai Closes Bars, Pubs, and Lounges with Immediate Effect
Dubai’s department of Tourism Commerce Marketing has announced the immediate closure of all bars, pubs, and lounges. The shutdown has begun from March 16 (today) and will last till the end of the month.
The DTCM statement read, “In line with Dubai Government Precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of its residents and visitors, Dubai Tourism notifies all bars, pubs, and lounges (including bars within restaurants) to close with immediate effect from today (Monday 16 March 2020) till the end of March.”
Source: Gulf News
Govt Seals Major Restaurants in Karachi
The Sindh government has begun to seal major restaurants in Karachi to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Sindh had issued an advisory on Sunday urging people to avoid crowded places and attending large gatherings amid fears of the contagious disease.
Karachi police is taking action against the hotels and restaurants violating the government’s orders of limiting large gatherings.
So far, the police have raided Rashid Minhas Road, Gulistan-e-Jauhar and Keamari, sealing all the restaurants violating the orders.
Read more about it here.
Coronavirus Kills Member of Iran’s Top Clerical Body
Iran’s state media says that a prominent member of its top clerical body that appoints the supreme leader has succumbed to COVID-19.
Ayatollah Hashem Bathayi Golpayegani, aged 78, died two days after testing positive for the virus. The death takes the toll among Iran’s serving and former officials to at least 12.
Iran has been scrambling to contain the rapid spread of the coronavirus, which so far has infected nearly 14,000 people and killed over 720, according to official figures.
Prime Minister Avoids Handshake with Moulana Tariq Jameel
Amid coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Imran Khan is setting the example by displaying precautionary measures during his meetings.
A tweet from PM office, displayed below, shows how he avoided handshake with Moulana Tariq Jameel.
Tweet urges everyone to play our our role and avoid handshakes and other physical contact to ensure public health and safety.
Prime Minister @ImranKhanPTI & Maulana Tariq Jamil leading by example by taking strict precautionary measures in times of Corona Pandemic. We all need to play our role and avoid handshakes & other physical contact to ensure public health & safety#CoronaVirusUpdates pic.twitter.com/ZOJRWpiBI1
— Prime Minister's Office, Pakistan (@PakPMO) March 16, 2020
Philippines Impose Home Quarantine ‘To Save Ourselves from Ourselves’
The Philippines imposed strict home quarantine measures and a halt on work and transport across its main island of Luzon on Monday, putting half of the population on lockdown in an aggressive bid to quell rising cases of coronavirus.
The government would with immediate effect compel people to remain in their homes and reliant on deliveries of food and medical supplies, while transport and work would be suspended except for essential services, Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
Can You Tell Fact from Fiction When it Comes to COVID-19 Pandemic?
As COVID-19 continues to shake the world to its core, there is an information overload too. Amid the emerging sea of information, there’s also loads of misinformation that’s being spread causing undue fear and panic.
This short video will guide you on what to believe and what not to stay safe amid the outbreak.
Here are the latest numbers
Bloodbath at KSE
KSE-100 index crashed by more than 6% or 2204 points during intra-day trading today, recording the largest daily slump in history.
Trading is halted for another 45 minutes, that’s second time today.
Read more about it here.
Sindh Govt. Announces New Academic Calendar for 2020
Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani in a press conference has revealed major changes in the province’s academic calendar in view of coronavirus spread. Below are some highlights:
- Exams of 1-8 grades will be held from June 01 to June 15
- Exams of 9th and 10th grades will be held from June 15, 2020
- Matric results will be announced on Aug 15, 2020
- Exams of 11th and 12th grades will be held from July 06
- Intermediate examination results will be declared on September 15, 2020
- The new year of intermediate will begin from August 2020
Earlier, it was misreported that 1-8 grade students would be promoted without exams.
Kartarpur Corridor Closed from Indian Side
Following the Pakistani government’s closure of the Kartarpur Corridor yesterday, the Indian government has shut it from its side for an indefinite period starting March 16 (today).
The closure has taken place in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
Ulema, Mashiekh Urge to Postpone all Religions Gatherings
Minister for Religious Affairs Noor-ul-Haq Qadri says the government is taking effective steps to tackle the issue of coronavirus.
In a video message, he said as Muslims we should turn to Allah with prayers, worship, and repentance and take the precautionary measures and course of treatments as it is Sunnah of Holy Prophet (PBUH).
Source: Radio Pakistan
Where to Get Tested for Coronavirus in Pakistan?
Following the confirmation of coronavirus cases in Pakistan, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated 7 test centers at hospitals across the country, with the number of test labs now reaching 13 according to PM’s aide on health.
There are now 52 confirmed cases, of which effective contact tracing is being carried out. We’ve increased our diagnostic capacity, and are now able to carry out #coronavirus test in 13 labs across the country <257>
— Zafar Mirza (@zfrmrza) March 15, 2020
To learn about COVID-19 test centers and sample collection facilities in different cities of Pakistan, click here.
Islamabad Recreational Facilities to be Closed
Recreational facilities in Islamabad, including the F9 Park, Daman-e-Koh, Zoo and more may be closed for the public soon.
Authorities are also mulling shutting down the city’s shopping malls for at least two weeks.
Hostels at Punjab Varsities Converted into Quarantines
Following the first case of COVID-19 in Punjab on Sunday, the provincial government moved to convert the hostels of all public-sector universities into quarantine facilities.
The hostel rooms were thoroughly cleaned before they could serve as quarantines is an emergency situation arises. Belongings of hostel dwellers were ordered to be properly tagged and kept in storerooms.
A Threat Like No Other
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called COVID-19 ‘a threat unlike any other in our lifetimes’.
‘We are in this together,’ he said, ‘and we will get through this together.’
#COVID19 is a threat unlike any other in our lifetimes.
We must look after each other and protect the vulnerable.
We are in this together – and we will get through this, together.
— United Nations (@UN) March 15, 2020
Sindh Coronavirus Cases Jump to 76
Adviser to Chief Minister of Sindh on Law, Anti-Corruption Establishment, and information Murtaza Wahab has announced in a Tweet that the number of COVID-19 cases has reached 76 in the province.
More results have come in. So far 50 people who had arrived in Sukkur from Taftaan have tested positive, 25 at Karachi & 1 at Hyderabad. So the total patients have reached 76 in Sindh. Out of these 76 patients, 2 have recovered & the remaining 74 are being kept in isolation
— SenatorMurtaza Wahab (@murtazawahab1) March 16, 2020
PIA suspends flight operations between Pakistan and KSA
The national carrier has announced that it will be suspending all flight operations between Pakistan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the next two weeks.
A PIA press statement informed that flights from Jeddah and Medina will continue till March 17 so that Umrah pilgrims can return to Pakistan.
For our coronavirus coverage from March 15, click here.