Firdous Begum acted in over 150 Punjabi, Urdu and Pashto films. She got her breakthrough in the 1970 film Heer Ranjha. Image Credit: Supplied

Islamabad: Veteran Pakistani actress Firdous Begum, known for her character ‘Heer’ in the classical Punjabi movie ‘Heer Ranjha’ has passed away at Lahore’s hospital. She was 73.

It was rumoured that she died of COVID-19, however, later her family and doctors too attributed to brain hemorrhage that claimed her life.

Though she did well in the beginning of her showbiz days of late 1960s, her acting career received a boost when she played the lead role in the adaptation of the Heer story by the mystic poet, Warris Shah.

Firdous symbolized the golden period of Pakistan’s film industry when theatres were not attacked by radical Islamists and movies screened there meant for family entertainment. Ejaz Durrani, another iconic film star of that period, had played the character of Ranjha in the Punjab classic. Firdous is survived by two sons and a daughter.

Sangeeta tests positive

Another known star of the past, film actress and filmmaker Sangeeta (real name, Parveen Rizvi) has tested positive for COVID-19.

“I have quarantined myself at my home and am taking all the necessary precautions and medicines,” said the veteran actress in a statement on Friday.

Sangeeta is the latest in the lists of artists Mahira Khan, Behroze Sabzwari, Neelam Muneer, Abrarul Haq, Sanam Jung, Sakina Samo and Rubina Ashraf who have earlier contracted COVID-19 but recovered later after or during the quarantine period.

Meanwhile, there is no let-up in new infections as well as death toll caused by the deadly virus.

At a time when Pakistan is considering various options for early procurement of COVID-19, the country on Friday reported 83 new deaths and 2,972 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a period of 24 hours. Besides, there are more than 2,000 (2,447 to be exact) critical cases of COVID-19 in the country.

According to the Health Ministry’s portal, the total number of coronavirus cases in the country has jumped to 451,494 while 9,164 have so far breathed their last due to COVID-19. The number of active cases too, is critically high i.e. 42,478 while 399,852 have been recovered from the virus. The number of recoveries in the last 24 hours is estimated at 3,261.

13,000 volunteer for trial

13,000 people have so far volunteered for COVID-19 vaccine trials, said an official of Pakistan’s health ministry.

The first human trials of the vaccine, developed by a Chinese company CanSino Biologics Inc, started on September 22 in Pakistan. Since then, the country has administered the experimental shots to 13,000 people.

According to Dr Ejaz Khan, Chairman of Infection Control at Shifa Hospital in Islamabad, vaccine trials are being conducted at 5 centres in Pakistan — two in Karachi, two in Lahore and one in Islamabad.