Coronavirus: Pakistan’s Struggle Continues As Cases Jump Amid Lockdown

  • Coronavirus cases in Pakistan crossed the 1,000 mark on Wednesday
  • The number of recoveries has also risen to 24 in Pakistan
  • On Wednesday, eighth coronavirus death was reported in Rawalpindi
  • A fatwa from Jamia Al Azhar bans congregational prayers amid outbreak
  • IMF, World Bank have called for suspending debt payments by poor nations
  • Global coronavirus deaths have crossed 21,000, mostly in Europe
  • Italy reported another 683 deaths on Wednesday rising its toll to 7,503
  • Spain recorded over 700 deaths in one day surpassing China in death toll
  • Cases in the USA crossed 68,000 with its toll crossing 1,000

With cities locked down, movement restricted, and nearly all social & commercial activities suspended, coronavirus cases in Pakistan maintained an upward trajectory as the country’s tally crossed the 1,000 mark on Wednesday. Another coronavirus death was reported in Rawalpindi which took Pakistan’s death toll to 8 so far. PM Imran urged provinces to ‘reassess’ complete lockdowns as they could be detrimental to the country’s economy.

PIA on Wednesday announced that it will operate special flights to Canada and the UK on humanitarian grounds to transport the people stuck in Pakistan. On PM Imran Khan’s instructions, PIA also announced resumption of flights from Islamabad to Skardu & Gilgit as the region is heavily dependent on aerial contact for its basic necessities and emergency situations. All other domestic and international flight operations are suspended in the country till April 2.

Following a fatwa from Jamia Al Azhar that banned congregational prayers amid the COVID-19 outbreak, President Arif Alvi urged Pakistani religious scholars to do the same. Pakistani clerics, however, refused to oblige announcing the continuation of mass prayers, including the mandatory five-time and Friday prayers, in all mosques across Pakistan.

In another development, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank on Wednesday called for governments to put a hold on debt payments from the world’s poorest nations so they can battle the coronavirus pandemic. “The World Bank Group and the IMF believe it is imperative at this moment to provide a global sense of relief for developing countries as well as a strong signal to financial markets,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, coronavirus cases and deaths continued to see a global surge. Spain overtook China in coronavirus deaths recording over 700 deaths in just 24 hours taking its toll to 3,647. Italy too recorded another 683 deaths on Wednesday which took its toll to 7,503. The pandemic continued to accelerate in the US with the country’s tally crossing 68,000 and its toll going past 1,000 on Wednesday.

Here are the latest updates.

11.25 pm

Imran Khan launches ICT City app

PM Imran Khan has launched ICT City App which will be ‘bringing govt directly to ppl’s doorstep & all city depts together.’

This has become even more critical during this time of COVID 19 pandemic. As many as 43 different services are being provided online, he said.

The app offers quick access to e-policing, emergency services, NIC, domiciles, passports, arms licenses, vehicle registration, token tax payments, birth & death certificates & other services. The app will also allow rapid response by the Administration to shortages of goods including vital medical supplies.

10.30 pm

UK records over 100 daily COVID-19 deaths for first time

Britain registered over 100 coronavirus deaths in a single day for the first time on Thursday with 115 infected people dying.

“As of 5pm (1700 GMT) on 25 March 2020, 578 patients in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) have died,” said the official government website, up from 463 on Wednesday.

10.00 pm

Sindh bans congregational prayers

Sindh govt spokesperson Murtaza Wahab has announced that the province has suspended congregational prayers in all mosques starting Friday, March 27 till April 5.

He added that only 3 to 5 people from the mosque staff will be allowed to perform mass prayer in the mosque premises. According to Ghani, the decision was taken after consultations from medical experts and ulema of all sects to curtail the coronavirus spread.

A notification has also been issued in this regard by Sindh govt’s home department. It says that the general public will offer prayers at home as per the guidance of religious scholars.

8.50 pm

Prisoners released in Pakistan over coronavirus fears

In Sindh, as many as 829 under-trial prisoners (UTP) were released from jails on Thursday in view of the coronavirus spread. All of these were cases of lesser punishment.

Baluchistan also issued directives for the release of 78 prisoners on the same grounds.

8.30 pm

Punjab reports new coronavirus death

Punjab has reported another coronavirus death, taking the national toll to 9 so far.

8.00 pm

NEW CASES: Punjab 70, KP 2

Punjab’s confirmed coronavirus tally has jumped by a bulk 70 to 405.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also has reported 2 new cases.

7.30 pm

About 50,000 coronavirus testing kits to arrive tomorrow

NDMA Chairman Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal has told the media that about 50,000 COVID-19 testing kits are going to arrive in Karachi tomorrow. More equipment was also expected in the coming days, he said.

7.15 pm

PIA special flights to Canada and UK canceled

On government instructions, the national carrier has canceled the four special flights that were to fly to the UK and Canada on March 27 and 28.

The govt. had allowed operations of these special flights on humanitarian grounds to transport the passengers stuck in Pakistan.

According to PIA, the decision has been withdrawn in view of a sharp and continuous spike of coronavirus cases in the UK and North America.

6.00 pm

293 violators of lockdown directives arrested in Sindh

As many as 293 individuals were arrested in Sindh for violating the lockdown instructions on Thursday.

Of these, 51 were held in Hyderabad, 36 in Sukkur, 10 in Mirpurkhas, and 10 in Shaheed Benazirabad.

In Karachi alone, 186 people were held for hoarding cleaning and protective essentials like masks and sanitizers under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

5.45 pm

Spain confirms over 650 deaths

Spain registered 655 fatalities from the coronavirus – down from over 700 on Wednesday, while Italy confirmed a lower rate of infections.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) European office said it saw “encouraging signs”, cautioning it was too early to say whether the worst had passed.

Source: AlJazeera

5.00 pm

Saudi Arabia halts Hajj agreement with Pakistan

The Saudi government on Thursday halted signing of Hajj agreements in Pakistan. The decision comes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed 2 and affected 900 in Saudi and has killed 8 and affected 1,123 in Pakistan.

According to a letter received by the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the agreement will not be made until the situation improves in the country.

4.45 pm

No new death by corona in Islamabad: DC Islamabad

4.30 pm

Mardan village locked down

KP health department has announced lockdown of the village on Manga in Mardan.

4.15 pm

Islamabad’s Shahzad Town & Rimsha Colony sealed

Deputy Commissioner Islamabad in a tweet has informed that Shahzad Town and Rimsha Colony have been sealed after one coronavirus case was detected in each area.

“Health teams will monitor the area and take measures. After health survey, we will open it,” he said.

4.00 pm

First coronavirus death reported in Kashmir

Indian-occupied Kashmir has registered its first COVID-19 death where a 65-year-old man succumbed to the infectious disease.

The man had a recent travel history outside the region. Rohit Kansal, the spokesperson of the region’s government informed that four contacts of the deceased had also tested positive for the virus.

3.05 pm

Nine doctors die from coronavirus in Philippines

Nine doctors have died in the Philippines from the coronavirus, the country’s top medical association said Thursday, as hospitals were overwhelmed and medics complained about a lack of protection on the front lines.

The announcement of the doctors’ deaths heightened fears that the scale of the health crisis in the Philippines is much worse than is being officially reported, with the confirmed virus death toll at just 38.

Source: Economic Times

3.00 pm

China reports no new locally transmitted cases of coronavirus

Mainland China reported no new locally transmitted cases of coronavirus for the sixth time in eight days as Hubei province, where the virus was first detected, opened its borders, but imported cases rose as Beijing ramped up controls to prevent a resurgence of infections.

All 67 new cases reported by the end of Wednesday were imported, and all 47 reported the previous day were imported too, the National Health Commission said in a statement on Thursday.

Source: Reuters

2.45 pm

NEW CASES: Sindh 8, Punjab 12

Eight new confirmed coronavirus cases have emerged in Sindh according to Meeran Yousuf, media coordinator to the Sindh health minister.

Seven were reported from Karachi and were of local transmission, while one was reported in Hyderabad with a recent travel history of the UK.

Punjab has reported 12 new coronavirus cases taking its provincial tally to 335.

12.45 pm

All motorways closed for traffic

National Highways & Motorway Police has announced closure of all motorways ‘except such private vehicles that are boarded by not more than two persons who can prove an unavoidable reason to travel’.

12.15 pm

READ: Pakistan reached 1000th coronavirus case faster than Italy

Pakistan has now crossed 1,100 confirmed cases of coronavirus. The speed at which these cases are being reported is alarming.

To put it into perspective, Pakistan has reported its 1000th case faster than Italy, which is now the epicenter of the disease.

Read the full story here.

12.00 pm

President Alvi to meet religious scholars shortly

President Arif Alvi will hold a video meeting with Pakistan’s top religious scholars soon over coronavirus situation.

During the meeting, which is organized by the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and the ministry of religious affairs, consultation will be made on mass prayers and religious gatherings amid COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s pertinent to note here that President Alvi on Wednesday urged Pakistani religious scholars to ban mass prayers in mosques after a fatwa from Jamia Al Azhar announced the same. His request, however, was turned down by the scholars.

11.30 am

NEW CASES: Islamabad 5, GB 3

Five new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Islamabad taking the capital’s tally to 25.

Gilgit Baltistan’s tally has also jumped by three new cases to 121.

10.00 am

12 more coronavirus cases confirmed in Balochistan

12 new coronavirus cases have been reported in Balochistan, according to government spokesperson Liaqat Shahwani.

He added that another 165 test results were awaited while samples of 1,445 people were taken so far.

1.00 am

Punjab reports 11 new cases


For our coronavirus coverage from March 25, click here