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Pakistan’s Coronavirus Cases Exceed 2,000

by Newsweek Pakistan

Authorities say 82 people have recovered fully, while 10 remain in critical condition

With 10 patients currently in critical condition, Pakistan’s confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus climbed to 2,039 on Wednesday, a jump of over 150 in the past 24 hours.

On Tuesday night, the Sindh Health Department updated the provincial tally of COVID-19 patients, placing it at 676. Of these, 343 cases are of local transmission, showing that community spread is rapidly displacing foreign travel as the primary means of transmission of the virus. Of the 676 cases in Sindh, 51 have fully recovered, while the province has thus far reported 8 deaths.

Confirmed Cases, Total – 2,039

Punjab – 708

Sindh – 676

Balochistan – 158

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa – 253

Islamabad – 54

Gilgit-Baltistan – 184

Pakistan-administered Kashmir – 6

Deaths – 26

Recoveries – 82

In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the total number of cases rose to 253, with Health Minister Taimur Jhagra posting on Twitter that of these, 188 were patients who either have travel history or contacts with people who have tested positive for COVID-19. “The remaining 65 cases are from returnees from the Iran border quarantine,” he added, clarifying that these did not pose a group risk of transmission within the province as they were being kept isolated.

In Balochistan, provincial government spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani said 19 people had fully recovered thus far, with 17 of those recovering in the past 24 hours—the highest number of patients to recover in a single day thus far in Pakistan. Overall, Balochistan has 158 cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday morning.

In Punjab, provincial Health Minister Dr. Yasmin Rashid posted on Twitter that the total number of confirmed patients now stood at 708; a jump of more than 50 in a single day. “… the fatalities are few in number, each life precious. Protection is the best way to avoid contracting the disease. It’s a new virus, do not trust myths and trials for treatment and precaution,” she added. Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar also posted on Twitter that 9 people have died in the province so far, while 337 of the cases are from among pilgrims who recently returned from Iran. The highest number of patients outside of the quarantines is in provincial capital Lahore, where Punjab has 154 cases.

According to the National Institute of Health, Pakistan had conducted 14,658 COVID-19 tests as of March 31. Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman, chairman of P.M. Imran Khan’s Task Force on Technology Driven Knowledge Economy has said that Pakistan must aggressively ramp up testing or the situation will get much worse before it gets better.

This week, P.M. Khan announced the formation of the Corona Relief Tiger Force, a volunteer initiative designed to ensure no low-income family is left without basic necessities during lockdowns. He also announced the formation of the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for coronavirus, a charitable sum that would offer tax incentives and be fully utilized to overcome the economic and societal impact of coronavirus. The prime minister has repeatedly come out against lockdowns, equating them to curfews, and claiming Pakistan is too poor to sustain such initiatives.

Most parts of Pakistan continue to be under lockdown despite P.M. Khan’s criticisms. The Sindh government has implemented the most rigid restrictions, barring all nonessential movement. Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have all followed, however, closing public and private offices and banning all public and private gatherings to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Congregational prayers have also been banned in Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Globally, the virus has now infected more than 858,300 people, with over 42,100 reported deaths. Governments across the world have halted flights, locked down towns and cities and urged people to stay at home. The U.S. now has more confirmed cases than any other country in the world, with 4,000 deaths and more than 188,000 patients.

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