Pakistan on Wednesday reported its first two casualties due to the deadly coronavirus that has infected 301 people across the country.
“Sad to report one patient who passed away in Mardan,” Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra tweeted late Wednesday night.
Within two hours after the tweet, Jhagra again announced that a second coronavirus death was also reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The minister tweeted that the patient, a 36-year old person from Hangu district, died in a hospital in Peshawar.
The number of cases in the worst-hit Sindh province reached to 208 on Wednesday after 19 people in Karachi tested positive, said Meeran Yousuf, the media coordinator of the health and population welfare minister. She said the province recorded total 36 new cases on Wednesday.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said the number of coronavirus cases in his province rose to 33 on Wednesday.
“I can confirm that there are 33 confirmed #COVID19 patients in Punjab. 20 quarantined in Dera Ghazi Khan tested positive & have been shifted to hospital. 6 patients in Lahore, 5 in Multan and 2 in Gujrat are also under treatment,” he tweeted.
Majority of Pakistan’s COVID-19 cases are linked to those who went on pilgrimage to Iran, one of the countries hardest-hit by the disease, while less than half a dozen are locally transmitted.
Pakistan shares a 960-kilometre border with Iran, with the main crossing point at Taftan in Balochistan province.
The Taftan border has been closed since March 16, but thousands of Pakistan Shia pilgrims who were visiting religious sites in Iran have been allowed to return subject to two weeks’ quarantine.
More 10 cases were reported in Gilgit-Baltistan and its Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman said that the total number of infection in the region was 15.
Also, the first coronavirus case was reported from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, where a 45-year old person who had recently come back from Iran was found positive.
Punjab Chief Minister Buzdar also announced that the restaurants, hotels and shopping malls would be shut down by 10pm every day to reduce exposure. He also said that number of staff at offices will be reduced.
Already 19 cases were reported from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 16 from Balochistan and 2 from Islamabad.
Authorities in Pakistan have screened over 1,015,900 travellers since the virus was first detected in the country. At least 20,088 travellers have been screened in the last 24 hours.
Sindh government has come out criticising Centre for lack of foresight in quarantine arrangements in Taftan where over 9,000 pilgrims returning from Iran had been quarantined by the Balochistan government in a tent city’.
After completing the 14-day incubation period, the pilgrims were allowed to travel back to their cities. However, Sindh and K-P sent the pilgrims to isolation facilities in Sukkur and Dera Ismail Khan and tested them before allowing further travel.
In its March 13 National Security Committee meeting, Centre formed a Novel Coronavirus Core Committee with daily meetings between federal and provincial authorities.