ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has decided to call an emergency meeting of the National Security Committee to discuss measures to be taken to prevent the coronavirus from spreading in the country.
It was learnt that addressing the parliamentary party meeting, which also took the legislators into confidence on the government decision to move a bill in the National Assembly for creation of the South Punjab province, the prime minister said that the coronavirus was under control, appreciating the preventive measures so far taken on this count.
However, he assured the meeting, also attended by the government allied parties, that negligence in prevention of the ailment would not be tolerated at all. Chief ministers of all the four provinces are being invited to the meeting of the committee, which will also be attended by ministers of defence, interior and foreign ministries as well as the Prime Minister’s advisers and special assistants, including Dr Zafar Mirza on Health, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Finance, Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan on Information and Broadcasting and National Security Division Moeed Yusuf.
Moreover, all three heads of the armed forces and the directors-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence and the Intelligence Bureau will also attend the meeting, besides other senior officials.
Meanwhile, Punjab hasdeclared medical emergency in the province in view of the coronavirus threat Thursday.
Addressing a joint press conference at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid said the cabinet committee met earlier in the day chaired by Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and the after extensive deliberations, the committee has decided to announce medical emergency in Punjab.
Dr Yasmin Rashid said the chief minister reviewed the situation emerging out of increasing number of corona cases in the region and the status of preparedness at facilities in Punjab. The chief minister has said all possible measures must be adopted to stop the spread of coronavirus in the province. She said the coordination among departments has been enhanced and with the help of home department, screening process at airports has been intensified.
The minister said. “The hospitals have been put on alert. The isolation and quarantine facilities have been developed at the 400-bed Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute, 250-bed Tayyip Erdogan Hospital in Muzaffargarh and 250-bed Institute of Urology in Rawalpindi. The required number of ventilators and necessary supplies has been provided to other key hospitals”.
She further said, “Most mortality have been reported in Italy so far and the diseases is spreading to other countries as well. A high-level committee under the chair of Secretary Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education Nabeel Awan is monitoring the situation every 24 hours. The Punjab chief secretary is in contact with the commissioners and deputy commissioners.
Meanwhile, two more cases of novel coronavirus on Thursday have been confirmed at the Pak-Afghan Torkhum border, sources said. One patient is a Pakistani national and other is an Afghan national who was sent back to his country after detection of the deadly virus.
Pakistani patient identified as Muhammad Asghar is an employee in the Pakistan Embassy in Afghanistan who was sent back to Pakistan on the special directives of the foreign office, said sources. He was working a Passport Collector in the Pakistan Embassy and was quarantined in Kabul as preventive measures yesterday. Agency Surgeon Tariq Hayyat confirmed infection of coronavirus in Asghar. Asghar has been quarantined at the Torkhum border and soon will be transported to Islamabad.
While the Sindh government announced on Thursday that all educational institutions in the province will remain closed till May 30, 2020.
The decision was taken after an important meeting was held by the Sindh cabinet. Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah presided over the meeting which was held to decide when schools will be opened. "Summer vacations are being preponed in Sindh & schools in Sindh will reopen on the 1st of June 2020. Decision has been made by cabinet," tweeted Advisor to the Chief Minister on Law Murtaza Wahab.
Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah while taking a policy decision on Thursday announced that all the matches of Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches in the national stadium Karachi would continue to be played without spectators from Friday.
“It is very risky to allow the spectators to gather in the stadium to witness the matches and we cannot expose everyone to risk, therefore matches would be held without spectators,” Murad Ali Shah said while presiding over a meeting of the Taskforce on Coronavirus here at the CM House. The Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shahlwani while briefing the chief minister said that stringent measures have been taken at the national stadium to ensure that people don’t contract the infection. However he underlined the high risk such huge gatherings in stadium can lead to. The chief minister said that in such circumstances matches all over the world are held without spectators. “Therefore, I am taking the decision that in the next matches the spectators would not be allowed and matches be held in the closed-door stadium,” he said.
Murad Ali Shah said that he could not put a large number of spectators and their family members at risk. The PCB management have welcomed the decision.
On Thursday, Pakistan reported its 21st case of the pandemic when a resident of Gilgit Baltistan was also diagnosed with the coronavirus.
A government spokesperson said the patient — a 31-year-old resident of Shigar district — had a travel history of Iran. The patient was under treatment at the Skardu hospital, Firaq added. While Balochistan also educational institutions due to fear of spread of coronavirus.
Meanwhile, India reported its first ever coronavirus death on Thursday as a 76-year-old man who recently passed away had tested positive for the infection. Meanwhile, the Senior Scholars Council issued a ruling that coronavirus infected persons are forbidden from attending Friday prayer and congregation prayers at mosques.
While Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudea and his wife are self-isolating after the latter returned from a speaking engagement and exhibited flu-like symptoms on Thursday, prompting worries that the Canadian First Lady may have contracted the dangerous infection.
Since the novel coronavirus first emerged in late December 2019, 127,070 cases have been recorded in 115 countries and territories, killing 4,687 people, according to an AFP tally on Thursday based on official sources.
While Iran announced Thursday that another 75 people had died of the new coronavirus, bringing the overall number of deaths to 429 out of more than 10,000 infections.
Meanwhile, Hollywood megastar Tom Hanks and his singer-songwriter wife tested positive for the new coronavirus in Australia Thursday, forcing them into hospital isolation and leaving authorities to trace hundreds of contacts at their concerts and film sets. Hanks and Rita Wilson, both 63, are being monitored at the Gold Coast University Hospital where they were "in a stable condition", according to Queensland state health officials. Hanks revealed the shock diagnoses in a message that informed fans they had felt slightly ill and wanted to get tested to "play things right."
Meanwhile, European officials reacted with surprise and anger Thursday after US President Donald Trump imposed a trans-Atlantic travel ban they fear will wound economies already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic. European leaders argue that their scientific advice suggests travel restrictions are ineffective when the virus is already present almost worldwide, and lamented that they had not been consulted. "The coronavirus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent, and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action," EU chiefs Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel said.
"The European Union disapproves of the fact that the US decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation," the presidents of the European Commission and European Council said. "The European Union is taking strong action to limit the spread of the virus," they insisted. Trump said the ban on travellers from the zone would come into effect at midnight Friday, and would not affect US citizens returning from Europe. Trump briefly caused alarm as he announced that a "tremendous amount of trade and cargo" would also be banned, forcing officials to clarify the measures would apply only to humans, not goods.
Despite the White House walking back this threat, the travel ban itself could hit airlines, travel firms and global businesses hard, and Asian and European markets plummeted on the news.
In Brussels, European officials and diplomats were furious. "If he wants the EU to be the culprit, so be it. It´s erratic, unilateral and creates a lot of problems that are unnecessary," one envoy fumed.
Meanwhile, the Czech government said Thursday it had declared a 30-day state of emergency, closing the borders for people from 15 "risk countries" to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The measure concerns "travellers from China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Spain, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, Denmark, and France," Prime Minister Andrej Babis told reporters. "We have also banned Czech citizens from entering those risk areas," the populist billionaire Babis added.
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