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November 22, 2020

Covid deaths hit four-month high amid govt, PDM politicking

Top Story

 
November 22, 2020

Ag Agencies

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s daily Covid-19 deaths leapt past the 40-mark on Saturday—the highest in nearly four months—as the country remains on the cusp of a full-blown second wave of the coronavirus amid a tug-of-war between the government and the opposition over an anti-government rally in Peshawar today (Sunday).

According to the National Command and Operation Centre’s (NCOC) daily update, 42 people lost their lives to Covid-19 — 34 of which died receiving treatment in hospitals, while active infections jumped to 34,974 after 2,843 more people tested positive for the virus in the 24-hour-period leading to Saturday.

This is the greatest increase in fatalities since July 24, when 54 died. The death toll now stands at 7,603.

At least 2,122 Covid patients are admitted in hospitals across the country, 246 of who are on ventilator. Some 763 hospitals are equipped with Covid facilities across the country while there are a total of 1,798 ventilators set aside for corona patients. The spreading infections come in the backdrop of intensifying rhetoric between the federal government and the 11-party opposition alliance, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), over the latter’s planned rally in Peshawar. A day after Peshawar authorities refused to allow the 11-party alliance to hold its rally, Prime Minister Imran Khan said the PDM was playing “reckless” politics with people’s safety, which in the past had been calling for strict lockdowns due to Covid-19.

“The same PDM members who had wanted a strict lockdown and criticised me earlier, [are] now playing reckless politics with people’s safety,” the Prime Minister said on Twitter.

He said the PDM members were even defying court orders and holding a public gathering when cases were rising dramatically. The Prime Minister commented on a tweet by planning minister Asad Umar, saying that Peshawar had 202 Covid-19 patients in critical care with 50 on low flow oxygen, 134 on high flow and 18 on ventilators. “PDM response: we will be safe on the stage so who cares what happens to citizens,” the minister had tweeted.

The minister, who is also the chairman of the NCOC, further said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government in Azad Kashmir had already announced a complete lockdown in the area for two weeks, while the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led Sindh government imposed smart lockdowns in four districts of Karachi but both parties were insisting on holding their Jalsa in Peshawar which was a “clear manifestation of their sheer hypocrisy”. The PDM responded, with PML-N’s Uzma Bukhari slamming the PTI for campaigning “day and night” in Gilgit-Baltistan and questioned why the coronavirus did not spread there. PTI minister Ali Amin Gandpur had been campaigning in crowded rallies as recently as Friday, ahead of an election for the GB-3 constituency of Gilgit-Baltistan, which will be held today (Sunday). PDM chief Fazlur Rehman meanwhile at a press conference in Peshawar, vowed a “historic rally will take place tomorrow”, adding that the next rally would be held on November 26 in Larkana which his party, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) will host.

He also said the time had come for “Pakistan’s Trump to be removed” from office referring to the defeat of US President Donald Trump in the US elections. Maulana Fazl said: “This government is the representative of a stolen mandate. It is not the representative of the people.”