- Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan has risen to 734
- So far, 3 deaths have been reported in Pakistan: 1 in Sindh and 2 in KP
- Tally of reported infections in Islamabad has also climbed to 10
- Sindh has been affected the most with 396 confirmed cases so far
- Punjab has reported 137 cases, Baluchistan 104, KP 31, and AJK/GB 56
- Provinces are introducing partial lockdowns to curb the spread
- The virus has claimed 11,875 lives globally so far
- Toll is the highest in Italy with 4,032 deaths
- Iran toll is also surging with 1,556 deaths so far
Social distancing is being urged at all levels to fight the unprecedented COVID-92 pandemic. While ruling out the likelihood of a blanket lockdown in the country, PM Imran Khan has stressed the need for people to self-quarantine for 45 days so the pandemic could be controlled.
CM Sindh Murad Ali Shah has also urged people to stay indoors during the 3-day long weekend to help restrict the virus’ spread. The spokesperson for the Sindh Health Dept. Meeran Yusuf has also asked people to show responsibility and maintain social distance, highlighting that many of the new cases were now locally transmitted and the person who died in Karachi had no travel history either.
With the country’s tally crossing 700, this may only be the beginning of a more widespread pandemic. While the outbreak continues to render the strongest of nations helpless, the impact it has on Pakistan could be way more disastrous given the country’s struggling economy and poor public health infrastructure.
China is winning the war against COVID-19 through social distancing as a key defense. Italy too is curtailing the spread through nationwide lockdowns and citizens responsibly following the self-isolation advisories. For Pakistan too, the win in this long and tough fight resides in social responsibility to help curb the spread and avert the suffering the disease can cause.
Here are the latest updates.
‘Time for Tough Decisions’
Time for some tough decisions. CM Sindh has discussed with Governor Sindh, Corps Commander Khi, DG Rangers & IG Sindh to ensure full implementation of Govt’s decision of keeping people at their homes. #SindhGovt will ensure that grocery & medical shops remain open
— SenatorMurtaza Wahab (@murtazawahab1) March 21, 2020
A Reminder on Social Responsibility Amid Outbreak
– Wash your hands regularly with soap & water
– Do social distancing, avoid going out unless it very important.
– Act as responsible citizens and follow instructions by government for public safety. pic.twitter.com/CBBzuh2Ku6
— Ministry of National Health Services, Pakistan (@nhsrcofficial) March 21, 2020
Italy Sees Biggest Daily Jump in Coronavirus Deaths
In the largest daily rise since the contagion emerged a month ago, Italy’s coronavirus death toll rose by a shocking 793 to 4,825 on Saturday.
On Thursday, Italy overtook China registering most deaths from the virus. The total number of COVID-19 cases in Italy has risen to 53,578 with Lombardy remaining the hardest-hit region registering 3,095 deaths and 25,515 cases.
NEW CASES: 38 in Sindh, 25 in GB
38 new cases reported in Sindh take the province’s tally close to 400.
Out of the Sindh’s new cases, 125 were detected in pilgrims from Iran and 3 in Karachi today.
GB’s tally has jumped to 55 with 25 new cases.
NEW CASES: 90 in Sindh, 41 in Punjab, 2 in KP
The jump to Pakistan’s COVID-19 cases continues with 90 new cases reported in Sindh, 41 in Punjab, and 2 in KP
In Sindh, all new cases were detected in pilgrims who returned from Iran and were quarantined in Sukkur. This brings Sindh’s tally to 357 so far.
Punjab’s tally, including the new additions, now climbs to 137. KP’s total is now at 27 with 2 new cases.
Pakistan Suspends All Int’l Flights for 2 Weeks
Expanding its efforts to restrict the spread of coronavirus in Pakistan, the government has suspended all international incoming flights for two weeks.
A statement issued on this said, “All incoming international flights are being suspended for two weeks.” The decision goes into effect starting 8 pm tonight.
PIA, however, will be allowed to bring back its planes. Cargo flights will also be allowed. Earlier today, PIA had said all international departures were being suspended till March 28.
Google Launches a Coronavirus Information Website
Last week, President Donald Trump announced that Google is making a COVID-19 screening website for US citizens. Later it was revealed that it was actually one of Google’s sister websites Verily that did so for patients willing to get diagnosed around the country.
However, Google has now also launched a website google.com/covid19 dedicated to information for coronavirus. The search engine giant has said that they’ve worked with “relevant agencies and authorities” to roll out the website which provides education, prevention and local sources related to COVID-19.
Read the full story here.
12 New Cases in Baluchistan, 2 in KP
12 new cases have emerged in Baluchistan taking the province’s total to 104. All new cases were reported from the Quetta quarantine.
KP also has reported 2 fresh cases with the province’s tally reaching 25.
Government Removes Import Duties on Medical Items
The government of Pakistan has exempted the import of 61 different kinds of Diagnostic Support and health safety items from all duties and taxes in order to reduce the rising prices in the domestic market. The step taken by the Federal Board of Pakistan will help effectively deal with the coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic in Pakistan.
These include medical equipment/machinery and apparatus like coronavirus detection kits, surgical masks, multimode ventilator with an air compressor, face shields, and other medical equipment for a period of three months.
Read the full story here.
AJK Announces Suspension of Inter-Provincial Transport
The Azad Jammu and Kashmir government has announced complete closure of inter-provincial transport for three days in a bid to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
The suspension will begin from Friday when no public transport will be allowed to enter or exit the AJK territory. A notification on this also stated that violators would be punished under the Epidemic Diseases Act of 1958.
All International Flight Operations Suspended by PIA
Pakistan International Airlines has announced that it is suspending all international flight operations till March 30.
The decision comes as a part of the government’s efforts to curb the COVID-19 spread in the country.
The decision will go into effect at 8 pm on March 21 and international flights will resume on March 28.
Read the full story here.
SBP Announces Support Package for Exporters Affected by COVID-19
State Bank of Pakistan will provide support through low-markup loans to exporters being affected by the ripple effect of COVID-19 pandemic spreading worldwide causing a drop in demand for Pakistani products.
In this regard, the central bank will provide a refinance facility to banks to provide cheap credit at interest rates that vary between 3 to 6 percent to exporters for working capital and new projects under Export Finance Schemes (EFS) and Long Term Financing Facility (LTFF) schemes.
Read the full story here.
34 Trains to be Suspended Until 15th of Ramzan
Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has revealed that operations of up to 34 trains will be suspended until 15th Ramzan. The move comes to discourage travel to limit the spread of the pandemic as well as to adjust to the reduction in traveling that’s currently observed.
He informed that some of the trains will stop running from tomorrow while the remaining will suspend operations from March 24.
PTA Issues Advisory to Telecom Operators In Case of a Lockdown
To create awareness among the general public about preventive measures against coronavirus, PTA has directed mobile phone operators to replace standard ring back tone (heard by caller when a call is being made) with awareness messages about COVID-19 preventive measures.
Read the full story here.
Jack Ma & Alibaba Group Foundation Donate Critical Supplies to Pakistan
Jack Ma & Alibaba Group foundation have announced a donating of critical COVID-19 related supplies to Pakistan.
@JackMa & @AlibabaGroup foundation are donating critical supplies to Pakistan to help fight against COVID-19. We have committed our entire logistics network to support the delivery & distribution of these supplies. Let’s fight together! https://t.co/hdOfi8KfEp
— Daraz (@darazpk) March 21, 2020
AKUH Temporarily Closes COIVD-19 Screening & Testing
The Aga Khan University Hospital’s Community Center has announced a temporary closure of COVID-19 screening and testing.
According to the hospital, the decision has been taken because of a large backlog. Announcement about the resumption of testing and screening will be made on AKUH’s Facebook page, the hospital said.
15 New Cases Emerge in Sindh
Sindh Health Department Spokesperson Meeran Yousuf has announced that Sindh tally has jumped to 267 with an addition of 15 new cases.
It brings Pakistan’s tally to 510 so far.
COVID-19: The World in Numbers
As of March 20, 11:22 am (PKT) 276,803 coronavirus cases have been reported across the world with 11,422 deaths and 91,952 recoveries.
Although China maintains the lead in terms of infections with 81,008 reported cases so far, Italy has surpassed it in deaths with its toll rising to 4,032 compared to 3,255 reported deaths in China.
This is in spite of the total number of infections that are about 40% less in Italy with 47,021 cases than China’s 81,008 cases. Recoveries have also been low in Italy at 5,129 compared to 71,740 in China.
Iran is also hit bad with19,644 cases, 1,433 deaths, and 6,745 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.
Isolation Facility Set Up at Karachi Expo Center
The Sindh Govt. spokesperson Murtaza Wahab has shared details and pictures of the field hospital that has been set up at Karachi Expo Center.
According to Wahab, the facility can cater to 1,100 coronavirus patients. He also urged citizens to self-isolate to limit the spread of the disease.
This is the Isolation Facility set up by #SindhGovt at Expo Centre Khi. As of now, this facility can cater to 1,100 patients who test positive of #COVIDー19. I would again urge my dear citizens to quarantine or isolate themselves so that use of this facility doesnt come into play pic.twitter.com/ToMqviSapX
— SenatorMurtaza Wahab (@murtazawahab1) March 20, 2020
For our coronavirus coverage from March 20, click here.