Pakistan balochistan virus
Workers of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority of Balochistan carry food for pilgrims at a quarantine camp prepared for people returning from Iran via the Pakistan-Iran border town of Taftan to prevent the spread of coronavirus, on the outskirts of Quetta. File photo Image Credit: AFP/archive

Dubai: Pakistan has reported a sudden increase in the number of deaths due to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, as seven more people died on Monday.

The death toll related to COVID-19 reached 21 on Monday while the number of confirmed coronavirus-infected people in the country rose to 1,664, according to Pakistani media.

However, the National Command and Control Centre put the death toll at 20 and the total number of cases as 1,625 early on Monday morning. At least 28 patients have fully recovered.

Punjab has become the worst-hit province in the country with 638 cases followed by Sindh (508); Kyber Pakhtunkhwa (192); Balochistan (141); Gilgit Baltistan (128); Islamabad (51); and Pakistan-administered Kashmir (6).

Meanwhile, opposition leader and President of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), PML-N, has slammed Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government for “wasting crucial time on thinking” amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. He noted that number of coronavirus cases has been steadily increasing in Punjab due to delayed reponse.

Shahbaz Sharif slams the government

Meanwhile, he also thanked the Chinese government for helping Pakistan by giving much-needed ventilators, testing kits, masks and other necessary equipment. “We have presented a national strategy to the government. By following this strategy, the situation can be overcome,” he claimed.

He also accused the federal government for not helping Gilgit-Baltistan in testing hundreds of suspected coronavirus patients.

A reaction to Sharif’s criticism, Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar said opposition parties are playing politics on a national issue. He said that the government took immediate steps to contain the virus and is taking care of the poor section of the society through a huge relief package.

Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar on Monday appealed to the philanthropists to come forwarded and help needy citizens with ration in the time of crisis being faced due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He also urged welfare organisations to help the daily wagers and the poor, as they have lost their livelihood due to the closure of trade and business activities in the wake of coronavirus lockdown in the country.

Food for the poor

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has renewed his pledge of ensuring delivery of ration and food supplies to deserving poor families across the country at their doorsteps. Briefing media persons about Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf Core Committee meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran on Sunday at his residence, Dr Firdous said that PM has trust in youth and wants to use the potential youth force volunteers in ensuring supply of food items to deserving people.

She said Imran urged the party leadership to stand by the people in testing times and play a proactive role in resolution of their problems.

Food security

She said the prime minister advised Minister for National Food Security to ensure availability of food items, including flour so that there should be no shortage of such items.

Punjab Chief Minister Buzdar informed the meeting that eight medical laboratories in the province would conduct coronavirus tests of 3200 persons daily while the recruitment process for 10,000 doctors and paramedical staff has been started in the province, reported APP.

One month salary as bonus will be given to doctors and paramedics, who will serve as frontline soldiers against coronavirus pandemic in the province.

Under-trial prisoners

The Supreme Court on Monday suspended orders issued by the high courts in the provinces relating to the release of under-trial prisoners amidst the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

In its order, the top court said: “No further order shall be passed by any of the high courts and by any of the provincial governments regarding the release of prisoners from the jails.”