KARACHI / ISLAMABAD / PESHAWAR / QUETTA / LAHORE: The novel coronavirus – which originated in the central China city of Wuhan towards the end of December 2019 – has spread to all continents excluding Antarctica. The COVID-19 respiratory illness caused by the mysterious contagion has so far killed thousands of people and infected tens of thousands of others across the globe.
Though the deadly infestation has been contained by the Chinese government in Wuhan, the virus has now spread elsewhere, especially in Europe and the United States, with the World Health Organisation declaring Europe as the new epicentre of the viral disease.
Pakistan, despite its close proximity with China, remained unscathed until February 26 when a young man from Karachi tested positive for the novel coronavirus. He had returned from Iran – one of the worst-hit countries.
After a brief pause following the first case, COVID-19 cases witnessed a sharp surge as more pilgrims returning from Iran tested positive.
The nationwide tally of COVID-19 patients soars past 1,400 with 457 cases in Sindh, 497 in Punjab, 133 in Balochistan, 180 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 107 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 39 in Islamabad and two in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The virus has claimed 11 lives in Pakistan. On the other hand, 25 patients have fully recovered.
Since the situation remains fluid, the stats are changing fast and we’re updating them accordingly.
Follow The Express Tribune’s live coverage of the pandemic here.
2:40 pm: Foreign minister arrives at Islamabad airport to receive Chinese doctors
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi arrived at Islamabad airport to receive the team of Chinese medical experts.
He said China has once again shown the world that they are friends of Pakistan.
“I am here to receive the medical team and we are grateful to China. This is a unique relationship. And such times tell us how close we are to each other,” he said.
Read full story here.
2:30 pm: China aircraft carrying medical equipment arrives
China aircraft carrying relief goods arrived in Islamabad, along with a team of eight doctors who will review steps taken by Pakistan to curb the spread of the virus.
2:23 pm: Three areas of Sadiqabad police station in Rawalpindi sealed
Three areas of Sadiqabad police station in Rawalpindi were sealed after five cases of the virus were reported from the area.
Five confirmed cases and 37 suspected cases emerged in the last three days in the area.
In a bid to curb the virus, the police have ordered people to stay at homes and military personnel have been appointed on the streets.
2:00 pm: Another doctor tests positive for the coronavirus
A doctor at Liaquat National Hospital (LNH) tested positive for the coronavirus.
He had recently returned from a religious gathering in Raiwind. He has self-isolated at home and is said to be recovering.
LNH spokesperson said all doctors working in his department have self-quarantined and no doctor, staff or patient has tested positive in the hospital.1:52 pm: 16 new cases in Gilgit-Baltistan raises provincial tally to 107
Another 16 people tested positive for the coronavirus in Gilgit-Baltistan, raising the provincial tally to 107.
“With three patients recovered and Dr Usman Riaz’s death, the tally now stands as 103,” said advisor CM on Information Shams Mir during a daily briefing at Gilgit Press Club.
G-B Law Minister Aurangzeb Khan said G-B would receive another 76 pilgrims from Taftan, adding that arrangements are being made for their screening and testing.
1:00 pm: Dr Zafar Mirza visits PIMS isolation centre
State Health Minister Dr Zafar Mirza visited the PIMS isolation centre and said he was satisfied with the arrangements made for coronavirus patients.
He said the number of isolation rooms has increased from 10 to 30.
Mirza assured the medical staff that every possible measure will be taken to ensure their safety.
12:47 pm: Shehbaz Sharif to consult medical experts
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif will consult medical experts via video link during the national health taskforce meeting today.
12:30 pm: K-P health minister to go live on Facebook at 8pm
K-P Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra posted on Twitter to send him questions, comments or suggestions so he can address the public on his Facebook live at 8pm today.
Send me any questions, comments or suggestions. pic.twitter.com/YBSNTNOAUu
— Taimur Khan Jhagra (@Jhagra) March 28, 2020
12:16 pm: Seven new coronavirus cases emerge in Punjab
Another seven confirmed coronavirus cases emerged in Punjab, raising the provincial tally to 497.
11:58 am: Nationwide tally soars pass 1,400
Punjab has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases at 490, Sindh reported 457, K-P reported 180, 133 in Balochistan, 107 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 39 in Islamabad and only two in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
25 people have fully recovered, while seven are said to be in critical condition.
11:10 am: Stranded Pakistani nationals to return via special flight
The federal government has allowed Thai Airways to resume flight operations to bring back Pakistani nationals stranded in Bangkok.
The stranded nationals will be brought to Islamabad via a special flight. It will arrive at 10:15 pm today.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesperson, 175 passengers will board the plane.
Read more here.
10:00 am: Chinese doctors to arrive in Pakistan today
A team of eight Chinese doctors will arrive in Pakistan today to review the steps taken by the government to curb the spread of the virus.
On their two week visit, the doctors will advise Pakistani medical experts on how to contain the virus.
State Health Minister Zafar Mirza said the government will fully benefit from the experience of Chinese doctors.
9:30 am: UC Manga reports highest number of cases in K-P
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa reported the highest number of confirmed cases in the province in Manga Union Council of Mardan district.
According to the data released, 79 people have been affected.
A control room has been established at the district police officer’s office and more than 200 security personnel have been deployed in Manga amid the lockdown.
District Police Officer Sajjad Khan said 364 people have been arrested for violating Section 144.
8:00 am: China donates 50,000 testing kits to Pakistan
China sent another aircraft carrying medical supplies to Pakistan.
The Chinese Embassy in Pakistan said two tonnes of supplies worth 67 million rupees were delivered, including face masks, ventilators and personal protective equipment.
Read more here.
1:22 am: US assists Pakistan’s fight against the virus
US diplomat Alice Wells said the United States is helping Pakistan fight the novel coronavirus, after it donated 11 state-of-the-art ambulances to health authorities in K-P earlier this year.
— State_SCA (@State_SCA) March 27, 2020
12:30 am: Punjab reports one new death, national tally rises to 11
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar confirmed the death of a 22-year-old in Faisalabad, raising Punjab’s death toll to 5.
The country’s death toll has reached 11.
With heavy heart, I am confirming that we have lost a 22 years old patient in Faisalabad. Total loss of lives is at 5 now. Currently we have 490 confirmed cases across Punjab.
This is a global health emergency and everybody needs to act responsibly and help us save lives. 1/2
— Usman Buzdar (@UsmanAKBuzdar) March 27, 2020
12:00 am: Punjab overtakes Sindh in confirmed virus cases
Punjab, for the first time since the virus was first reported in the country, surpassed Sindh.
Chief Minister Usman Buzdar confirmed the total number of coronavirus cases in Punjab is 490.
The highest number of patients were in Dera Ghazi Khan, where 207 affected pilgrims had been quarantined.
The Sindh government has reported 441 confirmed coronavirus cases in the province.
Read more here.
10:00 pm: INGOs conditionally allowed to operate
The Ministry of Interior accepted the international non-governmental organisations assistance offer and gave them conditional approval for working on corona relief.
The government has directed the INGOs to provide four sets of documents, with details regarding their action plan.
All organisations will work with the top bodies heading the government’s relief efforts, including the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and PDMA.
Read more here.
9:00 pm: IMF confirms Pakistan’s request for financial assistance
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) confirmed that Pakistan approached it for financial support.
“The Government of Pakistan has requested financial assistance under the Fund’s Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI),” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in a statement.
She said the emergency financing will allow the government to address urgent balance of payment needs and direct funds to Pakistan’s most affected sectors.
Read more here.
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