As of Thursday afternoon, the total number of coronavirus cases in Pakistan reached 304, with two deaths and three recoveries thus far. The National Command and Control Center reported the first death due to coronavirus in Pakistan on Tuesday. The coronavirus cases in Sindh have reached 211, with 134 of them having tested positive in Taftan after their arrival from Iran. COVID-19 has left over 220,000 people infected, with the disease now spreading in 158 countries around the world. Over 8,000 deaths have been recorded globally. While the virus originated in China, the epicenter of the pandemic has now shifted to Europe.
Preventative measures: Pakistan government has closed down all educational institutions till April 5 and banned all public gatherings for at least three weeks to control the spread of COVID-19. The government also decided to close land borders and limit international flights. Citizens have been advised to practice social distancing and wash their hands frequently while refraining from unnecessarily leaving their homes. Many private companies have established work-from-home protocols for their employees. The franchise cricket tournament, Pakistan Super League (PSL), was also postponed until further notice on Tuesday. The Sindh Chief Minister announced a Coronavirus Relief Fund for Rs3 billion and claimed that he will donate his one-month salary to the fund. Many cabinet members, advisers and special assistants, including Karachi’s mayor, also announced to donate one-month salaries.
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Testing: While testing can cost as high as Rs8,000, the federal government claimed that free of cost testing for coronavirus is being conducted across the country. Most district headquarter hospitals and tertiary care hospitals have the equipment to collect samples and send them for testing to a designated facility that has coronavirus testing equipment. The COVID-19 helpline set up by the government can be contacted at 1166.
PM’s address: Prime Minister Imran Khan gave a televised speech on Tuesday, amid the rising anxiety surrounding the spread of coronavirus. He assured the citizens that the government had taken all precautionary measures and advised them not to panic. He emphasized that even though the virus is going to spread further, citizens need to follow preventative measures, like regularly washing hands and self-quarantine, in order to “win this war against coronavirus”. He added that 97% of the infected patients had recovered. While other countries are reacting to the COVID-19 spread differently, the prime minister said that we cannot do the same due to Pakistan’s fragile economic situation.