The federal govt has suggested that provinces opt for ‘smart’ lockdowns, closing only the areas that are virus hotspots while freeing movement and activity in others.
The suggestion comes as the country began gradual resumption of select industries and businesses last week despite the virus numbers swelling continually with the country set to see its outbreak peak mid-May.
“We need to go for smart lockdown and let the other areas of the country remain open. Only those areas should be sealed from where cases are reported and other areas should remain open,” said Dr Moeed Yusuf, PM’s aide on National Security and Strategic Policy Planning.
But, for such target lockdowns to happen, the country’s testing capacity would need to be drastically improved, which, he said, the govt was tirelessly working on.
So far, over 8,300 people have tested positive for the virus in Pakistan while deaths linked to Covid-19 have crossed 170. About 65% of the new cases are now of local transmission. Punjab has reported most cases with its tally nearing 4,000, followed by Sindh, KP, Balochistan, GB, Islamabad, and AJK.
Here are the latest updates:
Punjab aims to conduct 10,000 tests per day: CM Buzdar
•پنجاب میں اس وقت کورونا وائرس کے 4111 مریض ہیں 705 لوگ اس وقت تک الحمدللہ صحت یاب ہوچکے ہیں
•پنجاب حکومت اس پر بھرپور کام کر ررہی ہے ہیلتھ ڈیپارٹمنٹ کو 14 بلین روپے کے فنڈز جاری کر چکے ہیں#SmartLockdownByIK pic.twitter.com/sJnINX3zFD
— PTI (@PTIofficial) April 20, 2020
READ: 51% Pakistanis think people will lose jobs in 6 months due to lockdown
A recently published survey titled ‘IPSOS Tracker and Snap Polls’ has revealed that more than half of Pakistan’s population believe that they will be rendered jobless if the coronavirus-induced economic restrictions are to prevail for the next 6 months.
The survey participants were asked if they know someone in their family or friends who will lose their job as a result of the economic conditions forced by the coronavirus pandemic.
In response, 51% of the participants answered that they are sure someone in their close circles will lose their job due to the worsening economic outlook.
Breaking down this sample to provinces shows that 54% belonged to KPK, 51% each to Punjab and Sindh, and 45% to Balochistan. Moreover, 54% lived in rural areas while the rest in urban areas.
Read full story here.
Reports suggest many have had coronavirus with no symptoms
A flood of new research suggests that far more people have had the coronavirus without any symptoms, fueling hope that it will turn out to be much less lethal than originally feared.
While that’s clearly good news, it also means it’s impossible to know who around you may be contagious. That complicates decisions about returning to work, school and normal life.
In the last week, reports of silent infections have come from a homeless shelter in Boston, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, pregnant women at a New York hospital, several European countries and California.
Ulema voice support for PM’s lockdown strategy
Religious scholars of the country said the stance of PM @ImranKhanPTI about #lockdown is a realistic approach &according to ground realities@MORAisbOfficial @MoIB_Official @PTIofficial #CoronaVirusUpdate #coronavirusinpakistan https://t.co/dylCBtL1Qa pic.twitter.com/tcUODeQhJL
— Radio Pakistan (@RadioPakistan) April 20, 2020
‘I’m trapped’: the UAE migrant workers left stranded by Covid-19 job losses
The UAE is on lockdown and most hotels are shut, leaving very low paid migrant workers – mainly employed in the tourism, hospitality and construction sectors – stranded in the country with no prospect of earning.
The Emirati government has allowed some repatriation flights for Asian migrant workers left jobless by the pandemic. However, some countries have refused to allow their citizens home, citing concerns over possible disease transmission, leaving workers struggling to survive without funds.
'I'm trapped': the UAE migrant workers left stranded by Covid-19 job losses https://t.co/FUZUIFIEuc
— The Guardian (@guardian) April 20, 2020
Sindh reports 5 new virus deaths
After 5 new deaths reported in Sindh, the national toll has climbed to 181.
The new numbers bring Sindh’s provincial toll to 61.
The following information is relevant to assess the situation of #COVIDー19 in Sindh as of 20th April at 8 AM:
Total Tests 26058 (today 1600)
Positive Cases 2767 (today 227)
Recovered Cases 635
In the last 24 hours, 10 people have recovered from corona in Sindh
— SenatorMurtaza Wahab (@murtazawahab1) April 20, 2020
OIC Rejects Anti-Muslim Prejudice in India over the Coronavirus Spread
The General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) expresses deep concern following recent media accounts of rising anti-Muslim sentiments and Islamophobia within political and media circles and on mainstream and social media platforms, where Indian Muslim minority is blamed of spreading the coronavirus in the country.
The OIC General Secretariat expresses its rejection of the targeting of Muslims anywhere, pointing out that the current COVID-19 world situation is such that it requires greater efforts, more active cooperation and solidarity mechanisms worldwide, and stronger mutual aid among all citizens of the same country.
More U.S. protests call for lifting coronavirus restrictions as governors push back
Protests flared in U.S. states on Sunday over stay-at-home orders while governors disputed President Donald Trump’s claims they have enough tests for the novel coronavirus and should quickly reopen their economies.
An estimated 2,500 people rallied at the Washington state capitol in Olympia to protest Democratic Governor Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order, defying a ban on gatherings of 50 or more people.
Despite pleas from rally organizers to wear face coverings or masks as public health authorities recommend, many did not.
India reports biggest one-day coronavirus spike as lockdown eased
An additional 1,553 cases were reported over 24 hours, raising the national total past 17,000. At least 543 people have died from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, and epidemiologists forecast the peak may not be reached before June.
The shelter-in-place orders imposed in India on March 24 halted all but essential services, sparking an exodus of migrant workers and people who survive on daily wages out of India’s cities and toward villages in rural areas. Authorities picked up travelers in a fleet of buses and quarantined many of them in empty schools and other public buildings for 14 days.
Starting Monday, limited industry and farming were allowed to resume where employers could meet social distancing and hygiene norms, and migrant workers were allowed to travel within states to factories, farms and other work sites.
Karachi factory sealed over violation of SOPs
Senator Murtaza Wahab said on Twitter that the civil administration has sealed a factory in Karachi’s Korangi area for being in violation of the SOPs.
— SenatorMurtaza Wahab (@murtazawahab1) April 20, 2020
Industrialists, on the other hand, have said that authorities harassing them under SOPs. President of Korangi Association Shaikh Umar Rehan has claimed that industrialists are being harassed under the garb of SOPs set up for them to open business due to the coronavirus.
PIA flight departs for Dubai to bring back stranded Pakistanis
A Pakistan International Airlines flight that will bring back stranded Pakistanis from Dubai on Monday morning departed for the port city from Lahore.
Another flight that is coming to Pakistan from London will also stopover in Dubai to pick up some Pakistanis before flying back home.
New Zealand to ease tough virus lockdown measures next week
New Zealand will next week ease some of the world’s strictest lockdown measures taken to tackle the novel coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday, after a month of tight restrictions slowed the spread of the disease.
The Pacific nation of 5 million introduced its highest, level 4 lockdown measures in late March, shutting down offices, schools and all non-essential services including bars, restaurants, cafes and playgrounds.
New Zealand move out of alert level 4 on April 27, a few days longer than the scheduled one-month lockdown, after which it will be in alert level 3 for two weeks, Ardern said in a news conference.
Over 6,500 Pakistanis to be brought back between April 20 and 28: Bukhari
PM’s aide on overseas Pakistanis, Zulfikar Bukhari, has said that more than 6,500 Pakistanis stranded abroad will be repatriated between April 20 and 28.
He advised passengers to familiarize themselves with travel SOPs before getting on board to avoid any inconvenience. Bukhari also shared a list of scheduled flights.
NCOC plan advocates social distancing during holy month
The National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), which is the nerve centre of the national Covid-19 containment activities, has prepared a 48-day strategy.
The strategy has pre-Ramazan, Ramazan, and post-Ramazan components, all of which aim at educating and informing the public about the potential risks, advocating adherence to social distancing practices and other containment measures, preparing the people for observance during the holy month under the special circumstances, and ultimately preventing the spread of the disease.
The NCOC’s campaign, which has already gone into the execution phase over the past couple of days, is titled “Zindagi Rawan, Zara Fasla Mehrban”.
Stay home as much as possible during this pandemic: PM reiterates
My message for people is to stay home as much as possible during this pandemic. The more people show self-discipline, the easier it will be for us to manage the COVID19 plus ease the lockdown gradually pic.twitter.com/YEOS4Hb6iu
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) April 20, 2020
Workers return to factories, industries in Karachi as virus lockdown eases
Workers on Monday started returning to factories and industries located in the Landhi and Korangi areas of Karachi as the government eased a lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Safety measures, in line with instructions of the provincial authorities, are in place at entrances of the factories and industries. Public transport has also started returning to the roads after a two-week hiatus.
India’s treatment of Muslims ‘akin to what Nazis did to Jews in Germany’
The deliberate & violent targeting of Muslims in India by Modi Govt to divert the backlash over its COVID19 policy, which has left thousands stranded & hungry, is akin to what Nazis did to Jews in Gerrmany. Yet more proof of the racist Hindutva Supremacist ideology of Modi Govt.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) April 19, 2020
G20 health ministers hold virtual meeting on coronavirus
Health ministers from the Group of 20 major economies discussed weaknesses in health systems that made the world vulnerable to the coronavirus outbreak and other pandemics, a statement said after a virtual meeting on Sunday.
“Health Ministers recognised that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted systemic weaknesses in health systems,” the statement said. “It also has shown vulnerabilities in the global community’s ability to prevent and respond to pandemic threats.”
The statement said the ministers adopted preventative measures to contain the pandemic, but did not elaborate.
For our coronavirus coverage from April 19, click here.