Punjab leads with 593 patients, as government announces 18 people have died of COVID-19 thus far
Pakistan on Monday reported that the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country had hit 1,625, with 18 deaths and 28 full recoveries.
On Sunday night, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar announced on Twitter that a 68-year-old woman who had recently returned to Pakistan from Saudi Arabia had died due to the novel coronavirus. Providing the detailed breakup of cases in the province, he said Lahore had 116 cases—curiously 3 lower than the 119 cases Buzdar had announced in the provincial capital on Saturday night—while the majority had been discovered among pilgrims returning from Iran after being released from quarantine at Taftan.
Confirmed Cases, Total – 1,625
Punjab – 593
Sindh – 508
Balochistan – 144
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa – 195
Islamabad – 51
Gilgit-Baltistan – 128
Pakistan-administered Kashmir – 6
Deaths – 18
Recoveries – 28
Authorities maintain that social distancing, regular hand washing and avoidance of all public gatherings are key to stopping the spread of COVID-19. The World Health Organization has also stressed aggressive testing to root out clusters of the disease. Pakistan has thus far lagged in testing, with the National Institute of Health reporting that the country of 220 million has cumulatively performed 14,336 tests as of March 29, 2020.
Last week, Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza announced that the government was expanding its testing criteria to four groups of people—earlier it had been restricted merely to people who had traveled abroad or their direct contacts. “[The four categories of patients to be tested] include asthma patients who come in contact with COVID-19 patients; people with respiratory illnesses or immuno-deficiencies; asthma patients or those with other respiratory illnesses; and people currently admitted in hospitals,” he said, adding that people with diabetes or cardiac problems could also qualify for testing.
This is still a restrained testing regimen and continues to ignore the community spread that the government had acknowledged is growing, with Mirza saying up to 27 percent of all cases could be due to local transmission.
Most parts of Pakistan continue to be under lockdown despite reservations by Prime Minister Imran Khan. 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 and Sindh to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Globally, the virus has now infected more than 721,900 people, with over 33,900 reported deaths. Per some reports, nearly a third of the global population is now living under coronavirus-related movement restrictions. The U.S. is now the country with the most cases in the world, overtaking China, where the disease originated late last year.