- 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 453
- Sindh has been affected the most with 245 confirmed cases so far
- Punjab has reported 78, Baluchistan 81, KP 23, AJK/GB 24, and Islamabad 2 cases
- Center and provinces continue to announce measures to curb the spread
As the world scrambles to control the COVID-19 epidemic, Pakistan’s tally of confirmed coronavirus cases has also jumped to 453 with new cases coming in by the hour from all provinces. Both the center and provinces continue to ramp up their efforts to restrict the virus’ spread through strict measures that range from curtailing social and commercial activities to suspending bus and train services and imposing partial city lockdowns.
A spike in local transmission was seen with Sindh alone reporting at least 40 verified cases of domestic spread. Among other measures, the Sindh government announced that the Karachi Expo Center was to be converted to a ten-thousand-bed makeshift hospital dedicated to coronavirus emergency. The army announced that it was extending all-out support to the central and provincial governments to fight the pandemic, and that its scientists were producing masks, sanitizers, and other protective gear to fill the supply gap created by panic buying and hoarding.
In a major development, the government of Pakistan announced the launch of an online portal to relay official 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. The portal, however, was found to be showing numbers less than the reported ones, but contains comprehensive information on COVID-19 and prevention guides.
In other developments, the PCB announced that the COVID-19 tests of all players, support staff, match officials, broadcasters and team owners were negative; the tests were conducted as part of the PCB’s ‘duty of care’, following a suspected case. The Indian Prime Minister Modi ordered a one-day nationwide curfew on Sunday to test the country’s ability to isolate its nearly 1.4 billion citizens. And China reported zero local transmissions in Wuhan or the surrounding Hubei province for the first time since the outbreak began.
Here are the latest updates.
First Coronavirus Death Reported in Karachi, Sindh
Sindh has reported the first COVID-19 death, taking the country’s toll to 3 so far.
The news was confirmed by Sindh health minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho who informed the patient was a 77-year-old cancer survivor and had diabetes and hypertension.
The patient did not have a travel history and was a case of local transmission.
Trump Cancels G7 Summit, Will Hold a Video Conference Instead
Presence & Praying In Squares of Two Holy Mosques Banned
The Spokesperson for the General Presidency for the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque, Hani bin Hosni Haider, stated that the Presidency and the security and health authorities decided to suspend the presence and prayers in the outer squares of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque starting Friday (today), as part of precautionary and preventive measures to prevent the spread of the Novel Coronavirus.
The Spokesperson emphasized that the General Presidency of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque calls upon everyone to cooperate with all precautionary measures taken to preserve the health and safety of the pilgrims of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque, and to work to limit the spread of Coronavirus infection (COVID-19) among worshipers.
Govt. Announces Formation of Joint Parliamentary Body to Fight Coronavirus
A statement from the Prime Minister Office says that PM Imran Khan has decided to form a joint parliamentary committee of treasury and opposition members to seek opposition’s support in the fight against novel coronavirus.
“Regarding the coronavirus situation and its control, the formation of a joint parliamentary committee of the government and the opposition was also agreed during the meeting,” the statement said.
Italy Death Toll Surpasses China’s
On Thursday, coronavirus deaths in Italy surpassed those recorded in China. So far, 3,405 people have succumbed to the deadly virus in Italy compared to 3,245 deaths recorded in China, the epicenter of the pandemic.
On Wednesday alone, Itlay had recorded 247 new deaths. The country is bracing for an extended lockdown that could be the toughest blow to the country’s economy since WW2.
For our coronavirus coverage from March 19, click here.