Pakistan records highest single day spike in COVID-19 infections

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan registered its highest single day increase in the coronavirus cases with 1,297 new infections, taking the total number to 18,114, officials said on Saturday.

The death toll due to the viral infection jumped to 417 with 32 fatalities recorded in the last 24 hours, the Ministry of National Health Services said.

As many as 4,715 patients have been recovered, it said.

A record number of 1,297 new COVID-19 patients were added in a single day on Friday, the ministry said.

Officials, however, said the spike in the COVID-19 cases is not surprising as it is due to the increase in the coronavirus tests.

As many as 193,859 tests have been conducted so far, including 9,164 in the last 24 hours, they said.

Special Assistant on Health Dr Zafar Mirza told reporters that Pakistan is increasing its testing capacity.

He said the coronavirus is still under control in the country and the death rate due to the disease is also lower.

“Pakistan’s death rate is still less than the projected numbers and secondly when we see the worldwide situation, it is far less than that. If you take care of yourself, it is guaranteed that you and your family will stay safe,” he said.

Of the total 18,114 cases, Punjab registered the highest number of 6,733, followed by Sindh at 6,675, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 2,799, Balochistan 1,136, Islamabad 365, Gilgit-Baltistan 340 and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) at 66, the health ministry said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday launched the second phase of the cash programme for those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

Khan said he is personally monitoring the distribution of the corona relief fund to ensure transparency

“So far Rs 81 billion have been distributed to people…I am personally monitoring this process,” he said, launching the second phase of the Ehsaas cash scheme.

The first phase was launched last month. A fund of Rs 144 billion has been set aside for the scheme.

Urging affluent citizens to contribute to the fund set up for people affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Khan said the government would contribute Rs 4 for every Rs 1 donated.

Prime Minister Khan also wished his Russian counterpart Mikhail Mishustin speedy recovery and good health after he was tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

“Wishing PM of Russia Mikhail Mishustin a speedy recovery and good health. Coronavirus is a common challenge and we stand together with our Russian friends in battling this challenge,” he tweeted.

Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar told media that as part of the measures initiated for businesses facing the heat of the pandemic, the government will pay three-month electricity bills for firms whose consumption is between five and 70KW per month.

Some of the other measures include reducing the interest rate and “unprecedented tax incentives for the construction sector”.

The government would also bring an interest-free loan scheme for small businesses, Azhar said.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant on National Security Moeed Yusuf has said that some influential people coming from abroad were escaping the mandatory testing and quarantine procedures.

“We want all Pakistanis to return as soon as possible but in a safe manner. We cannot have them coming back and infecting their loved ones, which is why we cannot give any exemption to anyone for coronavirus testing,” he said.

Yusuf said the repatriation process of Pakistanis from abroad is slow because the country’s “quarantine facilities can take 7,500 to 8,000 people at a time”. Another reason, he said, is that most airports and flights across the globe are not functioning.

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