Pakistan National Security Committee meeting
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs the National Security Committee meeting to put in place national strategy to tackle coronavirus outbreak. Image Credit: APP

Dubai: Pakistan has seen spike in number of coronavirus cases during the last two days as five more people were infected — bringing the total tally from 34 on Saturday to 52 on Sunday.

About 13 people from Sukkur in Sindh province have tested positive for the novel coronavirus after returning from Iran, spokesperson for the Sindh government Barrister Murtaza Wahab said.

"These people were purportedly kept in quarantine at the border," he tweeted.


total COVID-19 cases reported in Pakistan

This is the highest number of cases reported in Pakistan in one day. Out of country's total tally of 52, 34 are from Sindh.

Meanwhile, first case of coronavirus was also reported in Lahore. Lahore Health Secretary Captain (retired) Mohammad Usman has confirmed the first case of coronavirus.

The 54-year-old patient was admitted to Mayo Hospital on Saturday night after developing symptoms, days after he returned from the UK on March 10. 

Early Sunday, the Pakistan reported five other new cases bringin the total number of cases reported in one day to 18. Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) confirmed one case in Islamabad while the Sindh Health Department reported four more cases in Karachi. At least five cases were also reported on Saturday across the country.

The latest patient reported in Islamabad is the husband of an infected woman who recently travelled to Pakistan from the United States and tested positive on Saturday. She is also in critical condition, receiving treatment at the isolation ward in the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS).

According to reports, one out of the four cases reported n Sunday is locally transmitted while the remaining three returned from Saudi Arabia a few days ago. Sindh province has been the worst hit with 21 out of total 38 cases until Sunday afternoon. At least two patients have been discharged from the hospital after full recovery.

Out of the five cases reported on Saturday, two are in Balochistan, two in Sindh and one in Islamabad.

As of mid-March, the contagion respiratory illness has infected more than 156,00 people globally while more than 5,800 have been killed.

As the coronavirus cases continue to increase across the country, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has decided to supervise the campaign personally and chaired the National Security Committee (NSC) to contain the outbreak.

The meeting was attended by Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed provincial chief ministers, top advisers and cabinet members.

During the meeting, it was decided to close borders with Iran and Afghanistan. The committee decided to shut international flight operations on all airports except Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad which are equipped with scanners to detect coronavirus suspects.,

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has been tasked to coordinate with provincial governments and lead the fight against to contain the virus.

All educational institutions have been closed across the country until April 5.

The Punjab government has taken a step further on Sunday and decided to impose Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), banning public gatherings in wake of a surge in novel coronavirus cases across the country.

Banned by law

Under Section 144, the provincial government banned public gatherings by law including weddings, religious congregations, festivals, and sports festivals. The government has also shut down all educational institutions including Madrassahs and postponed examinations. It also prohibited hoarding and profiteering of hand sanitisers.

The Sindh government has banned public gatherings, shut down educational institutions, postponed religious celebrations and closed shrines, marriage halls, cinemas, gyms, social clubs etc.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan on Sunday said the government has taken concrete steps to overcome coronavirus in the country. “Prime Minister Imran Khan is personally supervising the operations in this regard,” she said.

She urged people to follow the precautionary measures as adopted by nations that are economically developed and medically advanced.

Border closed with India

Meanwhile, India has also announced to close all its borders with Pakistan. According to a tweet by the Indian Home Ministry spokesperson, the move will go into effect from Sunday night.

“In the wake of COVID-19 outbreak, as a precautionary measure to contain and control spread of the disease, the travel and registration for Kartarpur Sahib is temporarily suspended from 0000 hrs, March 16, 2020, till further orders,” the tweet said.

Earlier, Pakistan on Friday also temporarily sealed its borders with Iran and Afghanistan. Pakistan shares a roughly 900-kilometer border with Iran, where officials have confirmed that COVID-19 has killed more than 500 people and that well over 10,000 others have been infected.

State Minister of Health Zafar Mirza said that all of Pakistan’s cases were imported by its nationals returning from countries including Iran, Syria, China and the United Kingdom.

Pakistan’s border with landlocked Afghanistan stretches to nearly 2,600 kilometres, with several authorised entry points for people and trade as well as transit activities.

Army spokesman Major General Babar Iftikhar also confirmed that the annual National Day military parade scheduled for March 23, where thousands of guests are invited, has also been cancelled.