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Coronavirus in Pakistan: Confirmed cases grow as govt formulates relief force, helpline

The ‘Corona Tigers Relief Force’ with help the government battle Covid-19
by TR Pakistan

The numbers: By Friday afternoon, Pakistan’s total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases reached 2,458. The death toll due to coronavirus has risen to 35. The varying lockdowns continue to be imposed across Pakistan, with several revisions to suit the ongoing outbreak.

Sindh: While the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Punjab has increased to 928, making it the highest in the country, Sindh remains under strict lockdown. The permitted shops are only open during certain hours of the day and must close by 5 pm. The movement of citizens is limited. Sindh Police arrested more than 700 citizens for violating the lockdown and were later asked by the Prime Minister to release them. Sindh Government issued guidelines for congregational prayers on Fridays after country-wide violations were observed on March 27. Five graveyards in Karachi were designated for coronavirus related deaths. The Sindh government launched an application to streamline the process of providing ration to deserving communities. A drive-thru coronavirus testing and screening service has also been announced by the Deputy Commissioner South Karachi on Twitter.

Punjab: With the continuing increase of confirmed cases, Punjab government plans to follow similar measures to contain the spread of coronavirus. Starting April 2, all shops and grocery stores, except pharmacies, will only operate from 9 am to 5 pm. Schools and educational institutions will remain closed till May 31. A 1,000-bed field hospital for coronavirus patients has been established in Lahore Expo Centre, while many quarantine centers have been established in other parts of the province using train coaches. The “Infectious Disease Prevention & Control Ordinance 2020” was propagated by the government claiming that it would aid in controlling the disease.

‘Coronavirus Tigers’: On March 27, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the formation of a “Corona Tigers Relief Force” consisting of youth volunteers from across the country. This force would help the government in battling the coronavirus and relief activities. The registration process for volunteers began on March 31.

Covid-19 helpline: Pakistan’s Ministry of Health launched a Covid-19 helpline on WhatsApp which allows citizens to get authentic information about the virus, its prevention, and spread. In addition, the ministry partnered up with National Incubation Centre (NIC), Jazz xlr8, and other organizations to hold an online Hackathon which will encourage citizens to come up with solutions to the problems caused by COVID-19 outbreak. The hackathon details were announced through a Facebook Live conference which was also addressed by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, DR. Zafar Mirza.

 International flights resume: A notification issued by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), which was later withdrawn, said that international flights would resume from April 5. However, the National Coordination Committee (NCC), during a meeting on April 1, decided that special PIA flights will bring overseas Pakistanis home. All passengers will be kept quarantined and tested for coronavirus.

International aid: While Pakistan government has requested the IMF for additional funding, countries like China and Japan have also sent aid through medical experts, equipment, and funding.