Pak PM Imran tests negative for COVID-19; total cases cross 10,000 mark

Islamabad:  Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was tested negative for the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, his aide said, as the number of the COVID-29 cases crossed 10,000 in the country.
Khan, 67, agreed for the test after Faisal Edhi, the son of late philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi and chairman of the Edhi Foundation, who met him last week tested positive for the coronavirus.
“I am happy to report that his test is NEGATIVE,” government’s chief spokesperson Firdous Ashiq Awan tweeted.
She said the premier was tested for SARS-CoV-2, the virus strain that causes COVID-19.
Awan said the family of the Prime Minister had already tested negative.
Earlier in the day, a team of doctors from the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital collected samples from the Prime Minister.
Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital CEO Dr Faisal Sultan said that Khan agreed for the test as a responsible prime minister and a responsible citizen.
Sultan, who is also Khan’s personal physician and focal person on COVID-19, on Tuesday told the media, that Khan would undergo the test.
Saad, the son of Faisal Edhi, told the Dawn newspaper on Tuesday that his father started showing symptoms last week, soon after meeting Khan in Islamabad on April 15.
“The symptoms lasted for four days before subsiding,” Saad said.
Faisal Edhi had met Prime Minister Khan to hand over a Rs 10 million cheque for the premier’s coronavirus relief fund.
The Edhi Foundation was founded by the late Abdul Sattar Edhi and is the leading charity organisation in Pakistan.
Khan will participate in an event on Thursday organised to collect donations to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
A total of 17 more people have died in Pakistan from the COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, taking the death toll to 209.
The number of coronavirus cases has risen to 10,072, according to officials.
Pakistan’s Punjab province has reported 4,331 cases, Sindh has 3,373, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 1,345, Balochistan 495, Gilgit-Baltistan 283, Islamabad 194 and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir 51 patients.
So far, 118,020 tests have been done nationwide, including 5,647 in the last 24 hours.
A total of 2,156 patients have recovered.
Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa visited the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Wednesday and was briefed about the joint efforts by civil administration and Army to tackle the threat of the virus.
Bajwa emphasised on the need for continued stratified risk assessment and “managing trinity of health crisis, economic slide and psycho-social impact,” according to Army.
“The Pakistan Army in collaboration with other national institutions should take all possible measures to bring comfort to the nation in these challenging times,” the Army quoted him as saying.
Advisor on Health Dr Zafar Mirza in his daily media briefing said that all the institutions were working together like never before to defeat the pandemic.
He also said that a new committee was set up under his leadership to develop a consensus on the technical aspects of the response to the coronavirus.
Mirza said that the next three or four weeks would be “absolutely critical” for Pakistan and asked the people to follow the guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs) to help control the spread.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that peak of the virus could be reached by end of May or start of June.
He said this after meeting with the Chairman of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal.
Meanwhile, at least 492 Pakistanis, including 92 women, stranded in Afghanistan due to coronavirus pandemic have returned to their country from the Torkham border.
Officials said another 111 children, not registered with them as stranded persons but travelling with their parents, mostly mothers, were also allowed to enter Pakistan, the Dawn newspaper reported.

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