Coronavirus: Pakistan Crosses 13,000 Infections, 280 Fatalities

Coronavirus infections and fatalities in Pakistan have ballooned up in the past week after lockdown restrictions were eased for select industries. Punjab remains the worst-hit province with its cases crossing the 5,000 mark, followed by Sindh, KP, Balochistan, AJK/GB, and Islamabad. Over 3,000 people have also recovered from Covid-19 so far in the country.

A day after the countrywide lockdown was extended to two more weeks, the government announced on Saturday that it would also keep the international flight operations suspended till May 15 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The Civil Aviation Authority in a tweet said, “…remaining provisions as applicable to the suspension of Int flights reflected in previous orders remain unchanged.”

Govt officials foresee the country’s virus peak to arrive mid-May when Pakistan could see as many as 20,000 cases and 5,000 deaths. But, the World Health Organization has warned that infections in Pakistan could surge to 200,000 by mid-July if effective measures are not taken to curb the spread.

Here are the latest updates:


4.45 pm

Sindh cabinet ministers have decided not to take salaries till June 30: Murtaza Wahab

4.30 pm

The Do’s and Dont’s of face-covering from CDC

4.15 pm

President Alvi visits National Institute of Health

4.00 pm

Sindh reports 4 deaths, 341 new cases

3.45 pm

No govt instructions to re-open offices received: Nadra

3.15 pm

PIA flight carrying protective equipment from China arrives in Pakistan

3.00 pm

Bill Gates’s coronavirus vaccine could be ready in 12 months

Billionaire Bill Gates’s foundation will focus all of its resources on fighting the coronavirus, according to the Financial Times.

The philanthropist and founder of Microsoft Corp. said that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with an endowment exceeding $40 billion, will give “total attention” to the pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 and is roiling economies around the world, he said in an interview with the newspaper.

“You’re going to have economies with greatly reduced activity levels for years,” Gates said. The pandemic could cost the global economy “tens of trillions of dollars,” he said in the interview.


2.30 pm

Govt to pay 3 months of electricity bills for businesses across Pakistan

The Economic Coordination Committee has approved the Chota Karobar Imdadi Package, under which the government will pay the electricity bills of small traders for three months, whenever they resume their business activities.

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved Rs. 50.69 billion packages to provide indirect cash flow support to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through pre-paid electricity.

Read full story here.

2.00 pm

Millions of face masks imported from China do not protect against coronavirus

In an attempt to rebuild the damaged image due to its handling of the Coronavirus outbreak, China is exporting face masks and other necessary medical equipment such as hazmat suits, testing kits, and ventilators to countries facing acute shortage of these supplies during the Coronavirus pandemic.

However, most of the countries have claimed that the face masks imported from China do not meet basic safety standards, making them unsuitable for use in hospitals.

Finland’s health minister, Aino-Kaisa Pekonen, has revealed that the 2 million surgical masks and 230,000 N95 masks imported from China do not meet the required standards of protection against the Coronavirus.

Read full story here.

1.45 pm

ARY office sealed after number of employees test positive for Covid-19

Leading media network, ARY’s office in Islamabad has been closed after 8 people have reported positive for the novel coronavirus.

20 tests were performed as a precautionary measure by the administration after 2 people showed symptoms of COVID-19.

ARY owner, Salman Iqbal, has shared the news on Twitter, saying the office will now be sanitized and all the employees will be tested. The administration has also directed the employees to stay at home until further notice.

Read full story here.

1.30 pm

Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar addresses news conference

1.00 pm

Capacity of Sindh’s quarantine centers being increased: Murad Ali Shah

12.00 pm

This Japanese island lifted its coronavirus lockdown too soon and became a warning to the world

Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido offers a grim lesson in the next phase of the battle against COVID-19. It acted quickly and contained an early outbreak of the coronavirus with a 3-week lockdown. But, when the governor lifted restrictions, a second wave of infections hit even harder. Twenty-six days later, the island was forced back into lockdown.

A doctor who helped coordinate the government response says he wishes they’d done things differently. “Now I regret it, we should not have lifted the first state of emergency,” Dr. Kiyoshi Nagase, chairman of the Hokkaido Medical Association, tells TIME.

Hokkaido’s story is a sobering reality check for leaders across the world as they consider easing coronavirus lockdowns: Experts say restrictions were lifted too quickly and too soon because of pressure from local businesses, coupled with a false sense of security in its declining infection rate.


11.15 am

Pakistan can now conduct 30,000 tests daily: Chairman NDMA

Chairman NDMA Lt. General Muhammad Afzal confirmed on Monday that the country can now conduct 30,000 tests daily.

“We will increase our testing capacity in the coming days. Right now we can conduct 30,000 tests daily,” he told the media.

He added, “In the coming days our labs will be able to around 30,000 to 40,000 tests daily.”

The chairman added that another consignment of relief aid arrived from China this morning. “More relief aid will be coming in the next few days,” he added.


11.00 am

After over 3 months at home, China’s children go back to school

10.45 am

New York may partially reopen May 15

AFP: New York, which has ground to a halt to stop the coronavirus pandemic, may start reopening manufacturing and construction after May 15, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Sunday.

Cuomo, however, said that any easing of measures would take place first in the north of the state and not in the New York City metropolitan region, by far the hardest-hit area in the United States.

“The regions that would be more likely able to open sooner would be the upstate regions,” Cuomo told reporters. “Downstate New York is going to be more complicated.”

10.20 am

Global coronavirus cases approach three million mark

Coronavirus cases around the world topped 2.9 million on Sunday and deaths approached the 203,000 mark, well over half of them in Europe, according to a tally based on official data.

The daily toll in Western countries appeared to be leveling off and even falling in hard-hit countries, with numbers out of Italy, Spain, and France stabilizing in recent days.

10.15 am

Italy to loosen lockdown from May 4

Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has announced the second phase of Italy’s lockdown will begin from May 4.

Under the plans, bars and restaurants will be able to provide takeaway as well as delivery, and people will be allowed to move around their own regions, but not beyond. Factories and construction sites will also be able to resume work, providing they respected social distancing and other health protocols.

10.00 am

China reports just three new cases on mainland

China’s National Health Commission said on Monday the mainland had confirmed just three new cases of coronavirus and no new deaths.

Of the new cases, two were among people returned from overseas, while the other was in the northern province of Heilongjiang bordering Russia.


9.30 am

Sweden cracks down on bars as crowds flout corona rules

Sweden, whose softer approach to combatting the new coronavirus has garnered international attention, said Sunday it was ordering the closure of five Stockholm bars and restaurants that failed to respect social distancing guidelines.

The Scandinavian country has allowed schools for under-16s, cafes, bars, restaurants and businesses to stay open while urging people and businesses to respect social distancing guidelines.

Restaurants and bars are only allowed to provide table service, with tables spaced one to two meters apart to prevent overcrowding.


9.00 am

Global coronavirus death toll could be 60% higher than reported

8.30 am

Pakistan’s flag shone bright in the Swiss Alps as Switzerland’s Zermatt Matterhorn

8.00 am

Iran plans to reopen mosques in areas free of coronavirus, president says

Iran plans to reopen mosques in parts of the country that have been consistently free of the coronavirus outbreak as restrictions on Iranians gradually ease, President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday.

Iran, one of the Middle Eastern countries hardest hit by the pandemic, will be divided up into white, yellow and red regions based on the number of infections and deaths, Rouhani said, according to the presidency’s website.

Activities in each region will be restricted accordingly, so an area that has been consistently free of infections or deaths will be labelled white and mosques could be reopened and Friday prayers resumed, Rouhani said.


7.00 am

Covid-19 is causing sudden strokes in young adults, doctors say

The new coronavirus appears to be causing sudden strokes in adults in their 30s and 40s who are not otherwise terribly ill, doctors reported Wednesday.

They said patients may be unwilling to call 911 because they have heard hospitals are overwhelmed by coronavirus cases.

There’s growing evidence that Covid-19 infection can cause the blood to clot in unusual ways, and stroke would be an expected consequence of that.


6.00 am

Abbasi Shaheed Hospital’s emergency ward sealed as doctor tests positive for coronavirus

The emergency department of the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH) — one of Karachi’s biggest public hospitals — has been sealed after a doctor tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

A senior official at the hospital told that the chief medical officer (CMO) at ASH tested positive for Covid-19.

Dr Saleem Shaikh, additional police surgeon at the hospital added that the emergency department was sealed around 3pm after the doctor’s test came back positive.


4.00 am

Relief package for small businesses to be tabled in ECC today

2.00 am

Kids in Spain relish outdoor hour as virus lockdowns ease

Shrieks of joy rang out Sunday in the streets of Spain as children were allowed to leave their homes for the first time in six weeks, while residents of Italy and France were eager to hear their leaders’ plans on easing some of the world’s strictest coronavirus lockdowns.

The sound of children shouting and the rattle of bikes on the pavement after the 44-day seclusion of Spain’s youngest citizens offered a first taste of a gradual return to normal life in the country that has the second-highest number of confirmed infections, behind the United States.

“This is wonderful! I can’t believe it has been six weeks,” Susana Sabaté, a mother of 3-year-old twin boys, said in Barcelona. “My boys are very active. Today when they saw the front door and we gave them their scooters, they were thrilled.”



For our coronavirus coverage from April 26, click here