Sindh, K-P confirm 15 new coronavirus cases each, national tally hits 136

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Provincial authorities in Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Monday confirmed 68 and 15 new cases of novel coronavirus respectively, pushing the total number of confirmed cases in Pakistan to 136.

This is the single largest increase in novel coronavirus cases in the country as of today.

Sindh Health Minister Azra Fazal Pechuho said with the 15 new cases, the provincial tally has soared to 103.

There are 76 confirmed cases in Sukkur (all patients arrive from Taftan border), 26 in Karachi and one in Hyderabad, she confirmed.

Earlier in a tweet, Adviser to Sindh CM on Information Murtaza Wahab said another 11 people who have reached the province from Taftan have tested positive.

However, confusion remains as there is no provincial focal person to give a tally of confirmed cases in Sindh. The number of total cases may be revised as facts become clearer.

Meanwhile, northwestern K-P province also reported its first 15 cases of novel coronavirus on Monday.

“Just received news that 15 out of 19 individuals received in K-P from Taftan have tested positive for coronavirus. These are the first positive cases in K-P,” provincial health minister Taimur Khan Jhagra said in a tweet from his official handle.

“They are being well looked after in quarantine in an isolated facility in DI Khan. More details soon,” he added.

By March 11, the number of quarantined pilgrims in Taftan rose to 4,000 – out of which 2,000 belonged to Sindh. The quarantined individuals were placed in a tent city set up by the Balochistan government for Pakistani nationals entering the country from Iran.

After the 14-day incubation period ended, around 300 pilgrims left for Sindh. They were then quarantined in Sukkur where the Sindh government ran tests on the pilgrims before allowing them to travel further.

Pakistan’s total confirmed cases

On Sunday, 20 cases were confirmed by the authorities with Punjab reporting its first confirmed patient. Sindh confirmed 18 new cases while Islamabad reported one.

As of now, there are 103 confirmed cases in Sindh, 15 in K-P, 10 in Balochistan, three in Gilgit-Baltistan, four in Islamabad and one in Punjab.

Out of the 18 cases reported in Sindh on Saturday, 13 were of those quarantined in Sukkur. Three out of the remaining five had recently returned from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, one travelled from Balochistan and the fifth patient had no travel history.

Action plan

On Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) to cobble a unified approach to contain the outbreak.

The huddle was attended by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed provincial chief ministers, top advisors and cabinet members.

It was decided to close borders with Iran and Afghanistan, allow only three airports – Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore – to operate international flights in limited numbers while other airports will see domestic flights, and ban public gatherings.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has been tasked to coordinate with provincial governments and lead the fight against novel coronavirus. It was also decided to close all educational institutions until April 5.

The Pakistan Day parade on March 23 has also been cancelled.

The Sindh government has banned public gatherings, shut down educational institutions, postponed religious celebrations and closed shrines, marriage halls, cinemas, gyms, social clubs etc. Punjab government is said to have made a similar decision.

In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the education institutions have been closed till April 5 and suspended wedding activities around the province.

Balochistan has also limited activities and closed educational institutions till the end of March.

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