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Coronavirus cases in Pakistan near 7,000-mark; over 58 per cent cases locally transmitted

According to the Ministry of National Health Services, 128 people have died due to the virus so far in Pakistan, while 1,645 patients recovered.

Published: 16th April 2020 09:24 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th April 2020 09:24 PM   |  A+A-

People wait to receive free food supplies provided by the local administration during a lockdown in Multan, Pakistan, Tuesday, March 31, 2020.

People wait to receive free food supplies provided by the local administration during a lockdown in Multan, Pakistan, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. (Photo | AP)

By PTI

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's coronavirus cases rose to 6,919 on Thursday as the health department said that about 58 per cent of the total COVID-19 cases in the country are now locally transmitted.

According to the Ministry of National Health Services, 128 people have died due to the virus so far in Pakistan, while 1,645 patients recovered.

It said that worst-hit Punjab province has registered 3,291 cases, Sindh 2,008, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 912, Balochistan 280, Gilgit-Baltistan 237, Islamabad 145 and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir 46.

The authorities have conducted 78,979 tests so far, including 5,540 in the last 24 hours.

ALSO READ | 41 Pakistani nationals leave for home via Wagah-Attari crossing

The data released by the National Command and Operation Centre on Thursday showed that around 58 per cent of the country's total coronavirus cases are locally transmitted.

When the pandemic began spreading in the country last month, the number of imported cases was much higher than locally transmitted ones.

But the scales began tilting gradually, with imported cases slowing as the government suspended international flights on March 21, and reports of virus patients with no travel history began making the rounds, Dawn reported.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has chided his advisor on health for his "irresponsible attitude" and failing to brief the Supreme Court on the efforts of his government to contain the disease.

ALSO READ | IMF warns Pakistan's budget deficit may hit record high due to coronavirus crisis

The apex court on Tuesday expressed displeasure on the handling of pandemic by the government and directed the removal of Dr Zafar Mirza as the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health for failing to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

Prime Minister Khan in the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday reprimanded Mirza for his "irresponsible attitude" during his recent appearance before the court.

Mirza was appointed as Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health last year after the then Health Minister Amir Kayani was removed from his post for failing to check spiralling drug prices.

Mirza's removal would be a major setback to the Imran Khan government as he is one who is leading the campaign against COVID-19 in Pakistan and addressing the media daily about the steps being taken to control its outbreak.

The Supreme Court has also criticised the entire Cabinet for the failure to address the problems by the country, resulting in debate on social media, with some users lashing at the court.

Khan was also angered at the people who debated the court ruling on social media and some of them criticized the court.

He ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to probe against the people responsible for running a social media campaign against the country's top judge and other members of the superior judiciary.

According to a notification by Khan's Office, the prime minister has taken a very serious view of the recent campaign on social media in which "uncalled, immoderate and intemperate language" was used against the superior judiciary of Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Pakistan railways ministry has finalised a strategy for partially resuming train operations across all four provinces upon the end of a lockdown or any relaxation, the Express Tribune reported.

The services were suspended last month as part of the lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

"Train operations will partially resume in all four provinces and 24 trains will start functioning for up and down operations after approval from the prime minister," the paper said, citing sources.

The train staff and passengers must adhere to safety guidelines during the special train operation while strict action would be taken as per railway rules in case of any violations.

The booking for a train would only be done online and it would be stopped after the reservation of 60 per cent of seats as part of policy to maintain social distancing.

"No irrelevant person will be allowed to enter the railway station and those coming to see off must remain at least 200 metres away from the station," the report said.

The passengers are advised to carry their own masks, sanitisers and soaps.

The State Bank of Pakistan has reduced interest rate by 2 per cent from 11 to 9 which was the second cut in less than month.

The reduction by the bank since the coronavirus crisis was 4.25 per cent.

Meanwhile, Pakistan was included in the group of countries eligible for debt relief announced by the G20 countries in their Riyadh meeting, according to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Khan was lobbying to get relief for the developing poor nations to effectively combat the virus.

Also, Pakistan said it was bringing back its citizens stranded in India through the Wagah border.

High Commission of Pakistan in Delhi said the citizens had gone to India on different visas "including visit, pilgrimage and medical and had been stuck in Agra, Delhi and parts of Haryana and Punjab".

There are still some 145 Pakistanis stuck in India, the statement added.

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