- Pakistan reported its first two coronavirus deaths on March 18
- Both deaths were reported from KP within hours
- Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan has risen to 381
- Sindh has been affected the most with 217 confirmed cases so far
- Punjab has reported 78, Baluchistan 45, KP 23, AJK/GB 16, and Islamabad 2 cases
- Center and provinces continue to announce measures to curb the spread
Pakistan reported its first two coronavirus deaths on March 18, both in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The first person who succumbed to the deadly disease was a 50-year-old man who had returned from Saudi Arabia and was being treated at Mardan Medical Complex (MMC). The second death followed within hours where a 36-year-old man from Hangu being treated at Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital lost his fight against the virus.
Meanwhile, confirmations of more positive cases continued to flood in throughout the day from all parts of the country. Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) also reported its first positive case, a 45-year-old who had returned from Taftan recently and was now kept in isolation. Tourist curbs were announced by Punjab, KP, and GB governments to restrict the spread. KP and Punjab also announced partial lockdowns that include social and commercial restrictions.
CM Sindh Murad Ali Shah announced establishment of a Rs3 billion fund to boost efforts to tackle the epidemic. President Alvi, FM Qureshi, and other members of the delegation who visited China earlier this week have tested negative for the virus. Alvi and Qureshi had announced on Wednesday that they would be going in self-isolation as a precautionary measure.
Meanwhile, a new study carried out by scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), University of California, Los Angeles and Princeton, emerged on March 18 revealing that the novel coronavirus can survive in the air for hours and on surfaces for days. This may force us to revisit our approach to personal hygiene and the use of face masks which so far has been discouraged by health practitioners.
Here are the latest updates.
BREAKING: Modi Urges Entire Country to Self-impose Curfew
Indian Prime Minister Modi has ordered a one-day nationwide curfew on Sunday to test the country’s ability to isolate its nearly 1.4 billion citizens.
The curfew would start on Sunday morning and last until 9 p.m. local time.
This is a developing story, check back for details.
DG ISPR Says Armed Forces Extending All-Out Support to Fight Coronavirus
Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar, DG ISPR, has said that the Pakistan Army had been extending full support to the federal and provincial governments to control the spread of COVID-19.
He added that measures were underway to make the medical facilities of the armed forces ready to handle an emergency situation. He said that patient load management was being done at these facilities so they can be made readily available during emergencies.
Babar Iftikhar also informed that Pakistan Army scientists were researching and manufacturing personal protection equipment, face masks, and hand sanitizers to fill the current supply gap created by panic buying and hoarding.
Karachi Reports 4 New Coronavirus Cases
Four new coronavirus cases have emerged in Karachi, taking the Sindh tally to 217.
The new numbers were communicated by Meeran Yousuf, media coordinator for the Sindh health department.
Pakistan Govt. Launches Coronavirus Portal
The govt. of Pakistan has launched an online portal to relay information on the novel coronavirus and its spread.
The portal features a live, interactive dashboard on the latest COVID-19 stats and can be accessed at covid.gov.pk.
Punjab Reports 45 New Coronavirus Cases
Punjab sees a rapid jump in coronavirus cases with 45 new positives reported in the province today.
The new numbers take the Punjab COVID-19 tally to 78 so far.
Balochistan Goes Into Lockdown to Control Coronavirus Outbreak
The government of Balochistan has banned all transportation from and to Balochistan from today. The ban will also include the closure of inter-provincial and intra-city travel services.
The development has come a day after the province observed a spike in coronavirus cases. The provincial government has made a formal announcement in this regard.
Read the full story here.
KP Says Coronavirus Cases Reported Today Are ‘4 Not 15’
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa authorities have revised the figures of total coronavirus cases reported today to 4 from the previously reported 15.
Terming the previous relay of information ‘miscommunication’, Zain Raza, a member of the KP health minister’s team, said that the number of new cases confirmed today was 4, not 15.
Please note that due to earlier miscommunication, a wrong figure of 15 confirmed cases was relayed which was reported. In actual 4 cases have been confirmed in KP only, taking the total tally to 23.
15 new cases in KP, total rises to 34 https://t.co/b9CCwA0pT9
— Zain Raza (@smzrz) March 19, 2020
2 New Cases in Karachi; City tally at 213
Reports of new COVID-19 continue to flood in from across the country with the latest 2 additions reported in Karachi.
The new cases take Karachi’s tally to 213 so far.
15 New Cases Reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
KP has reported another 15 coronavirus cases in the province. This takes the province’s tally to 34 so far.
The confirmation has come from the provincial relief department spokesperson Latifur Rehman.
Baluchistan Coronavirus Tally Just Climbed to 45
Coronavirus cases in Baluchistan have just jumped to 45 from the previously recorded 23.
Liaquat Shahwani, spokesperson of the provincial government, has revealed the new count.
Govt. Suspends Training Program for Intending Hajj Pilgrims
The government has suspended training program for intending Hajj pilgrims as part of a preventive measure against spread of coronavirus.
In a statement on Thursday, Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Dr. Noor-ul-Haq Qadri said the decision has been taken following ban on gatherings in wake of coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Source: Radio Pakistan
Karachi Churches Suspend All Services with Immediate Effect
All religious services at Karachi’s churches have been suspended in view of the coronavirus spread, Archbishop of Karachi, Joseph Coutts, has announced. The suspension will go into effect immediately.
“It is our duty to cooperate with all the measures the government of Sindh is taking to protect us from the rapid spread of the virus. We can use the occasion to teach our faithful that not being able to go to church can be fruitfully used by gathering at home as a family to pray together,” said Archbishop Coutts in an official statement.
Swvl Continues Service in Pakistan with Additional Precautions
Bus-hailing service Swvl has announced that it will continue the services in Pakistan while ensuring additional precautionary measures to keep the rides safe for both the crew and commuters.
Some of the prevention methods the company has adopted include providing captains with disinfectants, crew training to keep bus seats clean before and after each ride, and more.
Read the full story here.
Up to 8 Karachi-bound Trains to be Suspended from March 25: Sheikh Rashid
Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid has announced that up to 8 Karachi-bound trains will be suspended from March 25.
He added that the decision was taken on the request of the Sindh government. Rashid said that alternative arrangements will be made for the travellers of cancelled trains as Pakistan Railways ‘does not have the resources to make full refunds’.
Check back here for more details on this.
Karachi Expo Center to Be Converted Into 10,000-Bed Makeshift Hospital
At a meeting of the provincial task force on coronavirus, the Sindh government has decided to convert the Karachi Expo Center into a thousand-bed makeshift hospital.
A decision to distribute 2 million grocery bags among needy families across the province was also taken at the meeting.
Read the full story here.
Karachi Reports Recovery of 3rd Coronavirus Patient
In a positive development, a third coronavirus patient is reported to have fully recovered, bringing the total number of recovered patients in Pakistan to 03.
CM Sindh Murad Ali Shah has called the recovery a ‘positive indication’ that the province’s efforts to fight the epidemic are in the right direction.
3 New Coronavirus Cases Emerge in Karachi
Media coordinator for the Sindh health and population welfare minister Meeran Yusuf has informed that three new coronavirus cases have been reported in Karachi today.
This takes the Sindh provincial tally to 211 with 151 reported from Sukkur, 59 from Karachi, and 1 from Hyderabad.
All 128 Coronavirus Cases Are Negative: PCB
Pakistan Cricket Board has confirmed that all COVID-19 tests conducted on the players, support staff, match officials, broadcasters and team owners on Tuesday, 17 March have turned out to be negative.
The tests were conducted as part of the PCB’s ‘duty of care’, following a suspected COVID-19 case. “It was absolutely critical for the integrity and credibility of the HBL Pakistan Super League and the Pakistan Cricket Board that all players, support personnel, broadcasters and match officials, those who had decided to stay back till the end of the tournament, tested negative for COVID-19,” said PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan.
“I urge cricket fans and followers to exercise absolute caution and value their as well as others’ wellbeing. They can overcome this pandemic by maintaining hygiene, avoiding close physical contact like handshaking and hugs, staying away from gatherings, avoiding close contact when anyone who is experiencing cough and fever, and spreading awareness about safety measures,” he added.
— PCB Media (@TheRealPCBMedia) March 19, 2020
Read the full story here.
Baluchistan Sends 1,652 Returning From Iran to Home Provinces
1,652 Pakistanis returning from Iran, after spending 14 days at Taftan quarantine, have been sent to their respective province by the Baluchistan government.
Of these people, 1,230 belonged to Punjab, 232 to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 190 to Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. They have been sent in convoys amid strict security.
U.S. Imposes Fresh Sanctions on Iran
The United States imposed fresh sanctions on Iran, keeping up its economic pressure campaign despite an earlier offer to help Tehran cope with the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. also called on the Islamic Republic to release detained Americans.
The United States imposed fresh sanctions on Iran, keeping up its economic pressure campaign despite an earlier offer to help Tehran cope with the #coronavirus pandemic https://t.co/eSdh2O25Zh pic.twitter.com/uGERNcsw9w
— Reuters (@Reuters) March 18, 2020
U.S. Suspending Visa Services Worldwide Due to Coronavirus – State Department
The United States is suspending all routine visa services as of Wednesday in most countries worldwide due to the coronavirus outbreak, a spokeswoman for the State Department said, an unprecedented move that will potentially impact hundreds of thousands of people.
The Department did not say which or how many countries are halting services but U.S. missions in more than half a dozen countries including South Korea, South Africa, Germany and Spain on their web sites announced that they were either stopping or significantly reducing services.
Wuhan Reports No New COVID-19 Cases for First Time Since Outbreak
Wuhan, China’s coronavirus epicenter, has reported no new cases of the disease for the first time since the outbreak began there in late December.
According to China’s health ministry, 34 cases were detected over the last 24 hours with all positives coming in people arriving in the country from abroad.
The development of zero new local transmission cases in Wuhan or the surrounding Hubei province could mark the beginning of the outbreak’s end.
WHO to Launch Multinational Trial to Jumpstart Search for Coronavirus Drugs
The World Health Organization said Wednesday that it would launch a multiarm, multicountry clinical trial for potential coronavirus therapies, part of an aggressive effort to jumpstart the global search for drugs to treat Covid-19.
Four drugs or drug combinations already licensed and used for other illnesses will be tested, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Ten countries have already indicated they will take part in the trial.
WB, ADB to provide $588m to Pakistan
The Ministry of Planning on Wednesday cleared an amount of US$238 million from World Bank funding and endorsed another $350 million funding offered by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in support for the COVID-19 emergency response in Pakistan and to address the socio-economic disruption associated with it.
A special meeting of Concept Clearance Committee of Central Development Working Party (CDWP) was held here on Wednesday under the Chairmanship of Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Mohammad Jehanzeb Khan, said a press release issued here.
Source: Pakistan Observer
COVID-19: The World in Numbers
As of March 19, 8:50 am (PKT) 219,240 coronavirus cases have been reported across the world with 8,967 deaths and 85,745 recoveries.
China remains the country worst hit by the VOCID-19 outbreak reporting about 80,928 cases, 3,245 deaths, and 70,420 recoveries. Italy follows with 35,713 cases, 2,978 deaths, and 4,025 recoveries. Iran is also hit bad with17,361 cases, 1,135 deaths, and 5,710 recoveries.
Spain, Germany, the USA, France, S. Korea, Switzerland, and the UK, among other countries, are also seeing sharp surges in the number of reported cases.
Iran Coronavirus Deaths Surge Past 1,100
Iran on Wednesday reported its single biggest jump in fatalities from the coronavirus as another 147 people died, raising the country’s overall death toll to 1,135.
The nearly 15% spike in deaths — amid a total of 17,361 confirmed cases in Iran — marks the biggest 24-hour rise in fatalities since Iranian officials first acknowledged infections of the virus in mid-February.
For our coronavirus coverage from March 18, click here.