Coronavirus cases in Pakistan rise to 1,526

Islamabad: The number of coronavirus cases in Pakistan reached 1,526 on Sunday, amid officials stepping up efforts to contain the fast spreading deadly viral infection.

According to the Ministry of Health, Punjab — the emerging hotspot of COVID-19 in Pakistan — recorded 558 cases, followed by 481 in Sindh, 188 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 138 in Balochistan, 116 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 43 in Islamabad and 2 in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

So far 13 people have died, 25 recovered and 11 are in a critical conditions.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar tweeted that the provincial government has increased the pace of testing to identify more coronavirus patients.

“So far 13,380 people have been tested for #COVID19 in Punjab,” he tweeted.

Earlier in the day, a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) aircraft carrying relief goods from China landed at the Islamabad airport.

On Saturday, a special plane from China carrying a team of eight medical experts and relief assistance landed here to help Pakistan to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Advisor on health to the government Zafar Mirza said, “There is not a single case (in Pakistan) with a travel history of China. This is remarkable if you think about it.”

“This could happen only because of the coordination between the Pakistani and the Chinese governments,” he said, adding that the decision to keep Pakistani students in Wuhan despite domestic pressure “proved right”.

The Pakistan government also decided to keep its western borders with Iran and Afghanistan and eastern border with India closed for two more weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Moeed Yusuf on Saturday said the move was taken in the wake of increasing COVID-19 cases in the country.

He also announced that all flights will remain suspended in the country till April 4. However, there will be exceptions if a country makes a special request to repatriate its citizens.

On Sunday, a special flight carrying stranded Pakistanis from Bangkok was allowed to land in Islamabad. All passengers were taken to an isolation centre where they will tested before being allowed to go home.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan posted a message of encouragement for his British counterpart Boris Johnson and UK Prince Charles, both of whom were tested positive for COVID-19.

“I wish HRH Prince Charles @ClarenceHouse and PM @BorisJohnson speedy recovery, good health and long life. This deadly virus #COVID19 has hit people beyond borders,” he tweeted.

Khan said there is a need for “an internationally coordinated response” to counter the virus.

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