Punjab government declares ‘medical emergency,’ as national tally climbs to 21 after Gilgit-Baltistan authorities report third case
Authorities in Gilgit-Baltistan on Thursday confirmed that a third case of the novel coronavirus had been diagnosed in the region, raising to 21 the total number of Pakistani patients.
A spokesperson for the Gilgit-Baltistan government told media that a 31-year-old resident of Shigar district, who had recently traveled to Iran, had tested positive for COVID-19. This is the third case to be reported from the region; last week, authorities announced a 45-year-old woman had tested positive, while on Wednesday a 14-year-old had been reported as infected with the virus.
Of the remaining cases, 15 have been reported from Karachi, one from Islamabad, one from Hyderabad and one from Quetta. Two of the patients have fully recovered and been discharged; the remaining 19 are in stable condition, according to authorities, and are currently being treated in hospital.
Globally, the virus has killed more than 4,500 people and infected over 124,000. It originated in China’s Wuhan city in December before spreading to the rest of the world.
Earlier, the Balochistan government announced that it was extending school closures in the province till March 31 in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
Similarly, the Punjab government—which has not yet reported any confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus—on Thursday announced it was declaring a medical emergency to coordinate the efforts of all departments dealing with the viral pandemic. “We need to take the coronavirus epidemic seriously. Precautionary measures such as unnecessarily touching face, shaking hands should be avoided,” Punjab Health Minister Yasmin Rashid told journalists in provincial capital Lahore. “People need to take the situation seriously; public gatherings should be avoided,” she added.
The government’s demands to restrict public movements ring hollow, however, as it has yet to announce any restrictions on the ongoing Pakistan Super League tournament, which is set to conclude on March 22. Medical experts have raised alarms over a potential for the coronavirus to spread among audiences at stadiums, and there have been calls for barring live audiences from the remaining matches. The government has yet to issue any decision on this.