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Pakistan sees large daily jump in coronavirus cases

By News Desk
April 27, 2020

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI/LAHORE/PESHAWAR: Pakistan’s confirmed cases of Covid-19 surged to more than 13,300 on Sunday — a leap of nearly 700 in a 24-hour period — after provinces reported sizable increases in coronavirus infections on the second day of Ramadan.

Sindh reported its largest ever increase in a 24-hour-period, with 383 more confirmed cases, taking the provincial tally to more than 4,615. “In the last 24 hours, 70 people have recovered from coronavirus in Sindh,” said government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab.

Punjab reported 121 new cases on Sunday, taking the province-wide tally to over 5,446. The province currently has the largest number of cases. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa reported 71 new cases, taking its tally to 1,864, while Gilgit-Baltistan said it discovered 10 new infections, taking its number of cases to 318.

Balochistan government spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani reported 60 new cases of “local transmission” in the province, taking its confirmed cases to 781. Azad Jammu and Kashmir has 59.

Twelve more people died across the country, taking the nationwide death toll to 277. A doctor in a Karachi hospital tested positive for coronavirus, resulting in the ward being cordoned off. “The infected doctor had been performing duties in the emergency ward,” a spokesperson for the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital said. Two doctors had previously been infected from the same hospital. A doctor in Quetta tested positive for the virus as well, the Young Doctors Association (YDA) said.

Just a day before, 92 health professionals had tested positive for the novel coronavirus across the country in a two-day period leading to Saturday, increasing the number of infected doctors, nurses, paramedics and support staff to 345. Doctors have been demanding PPE from the government, with a number of doctors going on hunger strike in Lahore.

In response, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza said on Sunday that the NDMA is currently providing PPE to frontline medical and paramedical staff in various hospitals across the country, Radio Pakistan quoted him as saying.

He said eights hospitals in Azad Kashmir, four in Balochistan, 11 in Islamabad, 100 hospitals in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 204 hospitals in Punjab, and 80 hospitals in Sindh have been provided personal protective equipment “several times”.

Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) extended its suspension of all international flights until May 15, according to a notification issued on Sunday. “As per the decision of the government of Pakistan, the suspension of international flight operations as effected earlier has been extended up to Friday, May 15, 2020 at 2359 hours PST. The remaining provisions as applicable to the suspension of international flights reflected in previous orders remain unchanged,” CAA said.

On April 18, Pakistan had suspended all domestic and international flight operations until April 30 in a bid to contain the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the National Command and Operation Centre, at its meeting in Islamabad on Sunday, reviewed the implementation of coronavirus guidelines during Ramadan. The meeting was chaired by Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar. Speaking at the meeting, Umar said the provinces may be asked to give feedback on compliance by people on Ramadan guidelines today.

Minister for Interior Ijaz Shah said the population in urban areas “needs to be continuously educated to follow the guidelines and not operate business as usual during Ramadan”. He, however, added the population in villages is “observing guidelines which is encouraging”.