Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh post new cases as testing ramps up in suspected clusters
The number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Pakistan soared past 1,000 on Wednesday, as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province reported 39 new patients from Mardan, where Pakistan’s first death from COVID-19 was recorded.
“Sampling has shown that out of 46 people tested in the [Union Council] UC Manga, 39 tests are positive,” posted Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Finance and Health Minister Taimur Jhagra. “All tested were asymptomatic,” he said, adding that further details would be released shortly.
The confirmation that the latest cases were all asymptomatic supports assertions from experts that Pakistan’s actual tally of coronavirus patients is likely far in excess of the reported cases, as most patients not displaying symptoms are not being tested and could be serving as carriers of the disease without being aware of it. In this scenario, social distancing and lockdowns—as already implemented in provinces—is essential to curbing the spread of the disease.
Confirmed Cases – 1,039
Punjab – 296
Sindh – 413
Balochistan – 115
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa – 117
Islamabad – 16
Gilgit-Baltistan – 81
Pakistan-administered Kashmir – 1
Deaths – 7
Recoveries – 19
Earlier, on Tuesday night, Adviser to the Sindh C.M. Senator Murtaza Wahab posted on Twitter that while the lockdown was not proving “100% successful,” it had helped reduce the number of positive results despite greater testing. “Imagine the result if all us pledge to stay home and keep our near and dear ones home,” he said, as he announced that 10 more patients had recovered, raising the total recovered in Sindh to 14.
In Punjab, meanwhile, government spokesperson Musarrat Cheema posted a provincial breakdown of the confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.
Of the 296 confirmed cases, she said, 65 had been reported from provincial capital Lahore; 176 among returning pilgrims in Dera Ghazi Khan; 20 from Gujrat; 3 from Multan; 2 in Rawalpindi; 8 from Gujranwala; 16 from Jehlum; 2 from Faisalabad; and 1 each from Rahim Yar Khan, Sargodha and Mandi Bahauddin.
Most of Pakistan is under a virtual lockdown due to the coronavirus threat, with all four provinces having restricted public and private gatherings and closed offices of all but “essential” services such as banks and telecommunications services.
Globally, the novel coronavirus that originated in China’s Wuhan city last year has infected more than 422,500 people and killed over 18,800. Experts are warning that after switching from China to Europe, the disease’s new epicenter might well prove to be the U.S., which has reported 600 deaths and almost 50,000 confirmed cases.