Of 184 confirmed cases in country, 150 are in Sindh, 15 in KP, 10 in Balochistan, five in Gilgit-Baltistan, and two each in Punjab and Islamabad
* Balochistan CM admits severe shortage of testing kits, ventilators in province
Pakistan on Monday recorded its biggest single-day spike in coronavirus infections, taking the tally to 184, amid reports of ineffective quarantine as 134 of those tested positive are reported to be among those who had been held at a quarantine camp at Taftan border crossing with Iran.
With an addition of 47 new cases, the tally of coronavirus cases in Sindh on Monday rose to 150. According to a spokesperson for Sindh health department, 119 of the cases arrived in Sukkur from Taftan, 30 are from Karachi while one is from Hyderabad. Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab said the ‘exponential increase is largely due to the recent inflow of people brought in from Taftan after a purported quarantine’.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also reported its first 15 cases of novel coronavirus on Monday. “Just received news that 15 out of 19 individuals received in KP from Taftan have tested positive for coronavirus. These are the first positive cases in KP,” provincial health minister Taimur Khan Jhagra said in a tweet from his official handle. “They are being well looked after in quarantine in an isolated facility in DI Khan,” he added.
In Punjab, Dera Ghazi Khan authorities confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus on Monday, raising the provincial count to two cases. The patient, who was among the 814 persons quarantined at a facility in DG Khan, had arrived from the Taftan border. DG Khan Health CEO said the patient, a resident of Layyah, has been shifted to Indus Hospital Muzaffargarh. DG Khan Commissioner Naseem Sadiq said another five patients, suspected of having contracted the virus, have also been shifted to Indus Hospital Muzaffargarh.
At present, of 184 confirmed cases in the country, 150 are in Sindh, 15 in KP, 10 in Balochistan, five in Gilgit-Baltistan, and two each in Punjab and Islamabad.
Balochistan Chief Minister Jamal Kamal Khan said on Monday that there is a ‘severe shortage’ of coronavirus testing kits and ventilators in the province. The chief minister took part via video link in a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan on coronavirus. He briefed participants of the meeting about the facilities being provided to pilgrims in Taftan and Quetta.
On the recommendation of the chief minister, it was decided to send pilgrims in Taftan back to their respective provinces. A consensus was reached during the meeting that the pilgrims will be quarantined by provincial governments and tested for the virus.
The chief minister said that food, water, health and shelter facilities were available for pilgrims at Taftan. He said that traders and pilgrims made up the estimated 3,000 people who were quarantined in Taftan. Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has directed the provincial police chief to carry out raids on stores and pharmacies that are selling overpriced tissue papers, hand sanitisers and antiseptics. Sindh government is also contemplating closing restaurants and tea shops by 9pm, as the number of coronavirus cases in the province continues to rise. “I am now adopting zero-tolerance [policy],” Chief Minister Shah was quoted as saying in a statement by his media consultant. “If our people stay out and visit eateries until late at night, I will shut down restaurants and hotels,” Shah said.
On the global front, Iran on Monday reported 129 more fatalities from the novel coronavirus. The latest 129 deaths brought the overall toll to 853 fatalities among nearly 15,000 infections since February 19, when the government announced Iran’s first cases of the COVID-19 disease. “Our plea is that everyone take this virus seriously and in no way attempt to travel to any province,” health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said. The disease has now killed at least 12 Iranian politicians and officials, both sitting and former, and infected 13 more who have either been quarantined or are being treated.
The UAE health ministry on Monday ordered the temporary suspension of wedding celebrations and other social parties for four weeks as of Wednesday, Reuters quoted state news agency WAM as saying. It also banned prayers at houses of worship including mosques. The government in a tweet reassured people about supplies of goods after a rush on supermarkets. Dubai and Abu Dhabi have closed gyms, public gardens, arcades and spas as well as stock market trading halls.
The World Health Organization called on all countries on Monday to ramp up their testing programmes as the best way to slow the advance of the coronavirus pandemic. “We have a simple message to all countries – test, test, test,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference in Geneva. Without testing, cases could not be isolated and the chain of infection would not be broken, he added.