Coronavirus updates, March 13: Latest news on the coronavirus outbreak from Pakistan and around the world

NSC meeting of top Pakistani civil, military leadership convened; countrywide school closure till April 5 decided

Web Desk

The number of confirmed cases in Pakistan of COVID-19 has risen to 28 after Sindh reported its 15th patient and seven Pakistanis in Taftan were said on Friday to have been infected.

Karachi has been the worst affected city so far, with 14 of the total confirmed cases. Of the remaining, five cases have been reported in Gilgit-Baltistan and one case has been reported each in Hyderabad and Quetta.

More than 5,000 people have died and more than 140,000 are infected globally from COVID-19.

Read on for updates on what's happening in Pakistan and around the world.


Updates for March 14 continue here

11:49pm - Luxembourg announces first coronavirus death

Luxembourg saw its first death linked to the coronavirus epidemic on Friday, AFP reported, quoting the country´s health minister.

The victim was a 94-year-old man who had been in a critical condition since Thursday, according to health minister Paulette Lenert.

The tiny Grand Duchy, which has reported 34 coronavirus cases, on Thursday joined its neighbours in announcing measures to try to limit its spread.

These include closing schools and limiting visits to the elderly in hospitals and nursing homes.

Landlocked Luxembourg is home to only 600,000 people, but more than 200,000 commuters from Belgium, France and Germany cross its borders each day to come to work.

As in many other countries touched by the virus, Luxembourg wants to encourage people to work from home, but this is complicated in its case by the tax rules for cross-border workers.

11:43pm - Saudi Arabia detects 24 new cases, bringing toll to 86

Saudi Arabia detected on Friday new 24 cases of coronavirus, including 14 Egyptians, state news agency (SPA) said, citing the health ministry.

This brings the total of coronavirus cases in the kingdom to 86, with only one recovery reported, SPA said.

Muslim worshippers circumambulate the sacred Kaaba in Makkah´s Grand Mosque on Friday. — AFP

11:40 pm - Canada unveils $750m stimulus to counter virus

Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced Friday a US$750 million stimulus package to help businesses struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic, reported AFP.

At the same time, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz slashed the central bank's key lending rate by 50 basis points to 0.75% — on the heels of a cut earlier this month.

11:38pm - France coronavirus toll up by 18 to 79

Another 18 people have died from the coronavirus in France over the last 24 hours, bringing the total deaths from the virus to 79, Health Minister Olivier Veran said Friday, reported AFP.

Another 154 people were still in a serious condition, the minister added, while the total number of people infected with the virus had jumped to 3,661 — from 2,876 Thursday evening.

11:35pm - Latest coronavirus updates

The number of coronavirus cases globally stood at 140,720, with 5,347 deaths, across 124 countries and territories by 1700 GMT Friday, according to a tally compiled by AFP from official sources.

Since 1700 GMT on Thursday, 9,265 new cases and 422 new deaths have been reported globally.

China — excluding the territories of Hong Kong and Macau — where the epidemic emerged at the end of December had 80,813 cases, of which 3,176 were fatal. There have been 20 new infections and seven deaths since 1700 GMT Thursday, while 64,111 people have recovered from the virus.

Outside China, a total of 59,915 cases have been recorded around the world since the epidemic began, including 2,171 deaths. That includes 9,245 new cases, with 415 new deaths.

The most affected countries after China are Italy (1,266 deaths out of 17,660 cases), Iran (514 deaths, 11,364 cases), Spain (120 deaths and 4,209 cases) and South Korea (67 deaths, 7,979 cases).

11:34pm - Turkey halts flights with nine European countries 

Turkey is halting flights to and from Germany, France, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands as of Saturday morning until April 17 as part of efforts to contain coronavirus, Transport Minister Mehmet Cahit Turhan said on Friday, reported Reuters.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, speaking alongside Turhan, said Turkey had confirmed three more coronavirus cases, bringing the total confirmed cases to five.

11:28pm - India shuts cinemas in Mumbai, bars in Bengaluru

Two Indian states ordered the closure of public buildings, cinemas and bars in several major cities on Friday, with Mumbai and Bengaluru subject to differing restrictions, after the country reported its first death from the coronavirus, reported Reuters.

With just 81 confirmed cases of the virus and a single death, India, a country of 1.3 billion people, has so far fared better than elsewhere in Asia, Europe and North America.

But experts say India’s already overstretched medical system would struggle to deal with a major rise in serious cases.

A 76-year-old man from Karnataka state became the first person to die from the virus in India, authorities said late on Thursday.

11:25pm - Coronavirus cases in Germany rise by 671 

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has risen by 671 to reach 3,062, the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said on Friday, reported Reuters.

It said five people had died after testing positive for the virus.

11:16pm - Europe now 'epicentre' of COVID-19 pandemic: WHO

The World Health Organisation has said that Europe was now the "epicentre" for the global coronavirus pandemic — and warned it was impossible to know when the outbreak would peak, AFP reported.

The continent had now "more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China", said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

"Europe has now become the epicentre of the pandemic," he said.

Tedros was speaking at news conference held virtually to avoid any potential spread of the virus among journalists.

11:09pm - WATCH: How global giants have responded to the coronvirus outbreak

10:25pm - Eiffel Tower closed for 'virus management'

The Eiffel Tower in Paris will close to the public from Friday until further notice because of the coronavirus, management said, as France's cases climbed to over 2,800, with 61 deaths, reported AFP .

"Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the operating company of the Eiffel Tower is announcing the closure of the tower this evening at 9:00 pm (2000 GMT)," the company said.

It added that it hoped "to be able to reopen very soon when conditions allow it".

10:20pm - Germany unleashes biggest post-war aid package against virus

The German government has unleashed the biggest economic aid package in the country's post-war history, offering companies "unlimited" credit to keep them afloat during the coronavirus crisis, AFP reported.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said the measures "are unprecedented in the history of the German government", and repeated that Berlin would do "whatever is necessary" to tackle the fallout from the pandemic.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz described the rescue measures as the equivalent of bringing "a bazooka" to the economic fightback against the virus.

10:16pm - Italy hits one-day record with 250 new coronavirus deaths

Italy on Friday recorded its highest one-day death toll yet from cases of the new coronavirus, according to official data, reported AFP.

There were 250 deaths recorded over the past 24 hours, taking the total to 1,266, with 17,660 infections overall, a rise of 2,547 since Thursday evening.

10:00pm - Coronavirus cases from Pakistan stand at 28: Zafar Mirza

"There are a total of 28 confirmed cases from Pakistan at this point," said Zafar Mirza, the special aide to the prime minister on health, during a media briefing.

He said that a meeting of the national coordination committee on the coronavirus outbreak will be held tomorrow.

"There is a need to make decisions at the national level [to deal with the outbreak]," said Mirza.

He said that during today's meeting of the National Security Committee it was decided that only three of the country's airports will receive international flights.

"International flights will only operate from Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi."

He said that a ban on public gatherings is in immediate effect. "Nothing is more important for the state than the safety of its citizens."

In this regard, a two-week ban on wedding halls and cinema houses has been placed.

09:19pm - British Airways to cut jobs over coronavirus: CEO

British Airways will cut jobs after the coronavirus pandemic devastated demand for global air travel, its chief executive Alex Cruz said Friday.

"To be frank, given the changing circumstances, we can no longer sustain our current level of employment and jobs will be lost — perhaps for a short period, perhaps longer term," Cruz said in an internal memo confirmed by the group.

Global airlines have cancelled thousands of flights worldwide, as COVID-19 decimates demand for passenger travel, with destinations to China and Italy in particularly hit hard.

08:51pm - FM Qureshi tells masses not to panic

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Friday that the masses should not panic. Speaking to media after the National Security Committee meeting, he said that both federal and provincial governments were keeping a keen eye on the coronavirus. 

He said that the government will have to keep its borders closed for the next 15 days. FM Qureshi said that the virus had not spread as much in Pakistan compared to other countries in the world. 

"China took effective steps due to which it has largely controlled the coronavirus," said the foreign minister. "Pakistan took timely steps due to which the spread of the virus has been controlled."

The foreign minister advised people to avoid going to cinemas, marriages and public gatherings. He urged people to watch Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches at home, saying that it was necessary.

08:20pm - Federal Board of Education announces cancellation of exams

All exams to be held under the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (FBISE) have been cancelled, the chairman of the board has announced.

08:02pm - Sudan announces first coronavirus death

Sudan has announced its first case of the novel coronavirus following the death of a 50-year-old man the night before, AFP reported.

The Sudanese citizen had recently been in the United Arab Emirates, the health ministry said in a statement, without providing further details.

Dozens of COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the UAE.

Sudan has announced a series of measures in response, including closing its land border with Egypt and suspending flights from China, Iran, Italy, Spain, Japan and Egypt, a government statement said.

Sudan would stop granting visas to nationals of those countries and Sudanese were advised not to travel to them.

Mass gatherings have been discouraged, and the government has asked the health ministry and military medical services to prepare quarantine centres.

07:54pm - Pakistan to seal off border with Iran and Afghanistan for 14 days

The interior ministry has announced that Pakistan will be closing off its Western border with Afghanistan and Iran.

The decision was taken during the National Security Committee meeting held to discuss the country's response in the coming days to the spread of COVID-19.

The border will be closed off "for an initial period of two weeks (14 days) w.e.f 16th March [...] in the best interest of all three brotherly countries", said a notification by the ministry.

07:38pm - All international orders will need to be closed: Qureshi

In a post-NSC meeting conversation with the media, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Pakistan will have to close off its international borders to safeguard against the spread of COVID-19 in Pakistan.

07:16pm - NSC meeting: Countrywide school closure till April 5 decided

Education minister Shafqat Mahmood has said that in the National Security Committee meeting convened to discuss the coronavirus outbreak, it was decided that all educational institutions across the country will be kept closed till April 5, but that the decision will be reviewed once more on March 27.

The closure till April 5 applies to "all schools and universities, public and private, vocational institutions and madaris," read a post by the minister on Twitter.

"The situation [...] would be reviewed by the Ministry of Education on 27th March and further decisions taken," added Mahmood.

06:57pm - Karachi's Arts Council cancels all events

The Arts Council in Karachi has announced it will be cancelling all events until further notice, given the dangers posed by the coronavirus outbreak.

The president of the Arts Council, Ahmed Shah in a statement said: "No event shall take place at the Arts Council until things return to normal or the government announces it has the situation under control."

Shah said that the Council values the health of its members and the decision was made to keep them safe.

06:22pm - Iran to clear streets, check everyone for coronavirus

Iranian forces will clear the streets nationwide within 24 hours and all citizens will be checked for the new coronavirus in a bid to halt its spread, the country's military has said.

According to AFP, a newly formed commission has been charged with overseeing the "emptying of shops, streets and roads" within that timeframe, armed forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri said.

"During the next 10 days, the entire Iranian nation will be monitored once through cyberspace, by phone and, if necessary, in person, and those suspected of being ill will be fully identified."

A photograph taken on March 13, 2020, shows an almost empty road in the Iranian capital Tehran after measures were taken to slow down the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19. — Reuters

The measures were brought into force after supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the armed forces to lead the battle against the new coronavirus.

Several politicians and officials in the nation of 80 million people have been infected, with some dying from the illness.

The latest suspected case of infection was Ali Akbar Velayati, who advises Iran´s supreme leader on foreign policy.

Velayati fell ill with "mild symptoms" on Wednesday and has been placed in quarantine, according to Tasnim news agency.

05:45pm - List of isolation facilities across the country

The Prime Minister's Office has shared a list of designated hospitals providing isolation facilities to COVID-19 patients.

05:43pm - You can get tested for COVID-19 at these facilities in Karachi

The Health and Population Welfare Department of Sindh has issued a reminder to people that tests for the COVID-19 are being done at Aga Khan University Hospital, at DOW Ojha and at Indus Hospital, in Karachi.

05:36pm - Non-utilised funds to be used for COVID-19 prevention: Hammad Azhar

Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar has announced that his division has set out to reallocate non-utilised funds from foreign projects towards the prevention of COVID-19 across the country.

The funds will be disbursed to the relevant departments by next week, said a post on Twitter by Azhar.

05:05pm - Coronavirus deaths pass 5,000: AFP tally

The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has risen to 5,043, according to an AFP tally based on official sources at 1100 GMT on Friday.

A total of 3,176 people have died in mainland China, followed by 1,016 in Italy, and 514 in Iran — the three countries with the highest number of deaths.

Since COVID-19 was first detected in December, more than 134,300 people have been infected in 121 countries and territories.

05:00pm - Iran reports 85 new virus deaths, taking total to 514

Iran has announced that the new coronavirus has claimed another 85 lives, the highest single-day death toll in one of the world's worst-affected countries, AFP reported.

"Sadly, 85 people infected with the COVID-19 disease have died in the past 24 hours", bringing to 514 the overall number of deaths in Iran, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said in a televised news conference.

"Across the country, at least 1,289 infected people have been added to the list of confirmed patients," said Jahanpour.

"The total number of patients has therefore reached 11,364 cases," he said, adding Tehran province had the most new infections.

04:56pm - Senate calls off all meetings, activities

The Senate has postponed all meetings of its committees and other activities as a measure to curb the spread of COVID-19, a statement by its secretariat said.

The measure was taken on the directives of the Senate chairman, who called for meetings of the various Senate standing committees to be put off until further notice.

04:44pm - PCB reschedules PSL matches

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has announced a new schedule for the remaining matches of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2020.

According to a statement by the PCB, the final has been moved up to March 18 from March 22. The playoffs have been replaced with the semi-finals on March 17.

The decision means the tournament has been reduced by four days and there will now be 33 matches as opposed to 34.

04:16pm - Nepal government calls off Mount Everest climbing season

The Nepalese government on Friday called off the Mount Everest climbing season due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. Speaking to an international news website, Nepal's tourism minister said,"We will review the decision if the situation improves, but for now everything has been cancelled. Those who have paid for climbing permits will be refunded."

The announcement comes as the peak tourist season in Nepal commenced a few days ago where tens of thousands of tourists each year take to the country in an attempt to scale the mountain. 

03:00pm - Modi proposes joint efforts against coronavirus

Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi on Friday proposed regional countries to join hands against the coronavirus epidemic.

“I would like to propose that the leadership of SAARC nations chalk out a strong strategy to fight Coronavirus,” Modi tweeted.

“We could discuss, via video conferencing, ways to keep our citizens healthy. Together, we can set an example to the world, and contribute to a healthier planet.”

2:57pm - PIA to operate six flight to Saudi Arabia

A spokesperson of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has said that has added two more flights for Saudi Arabia taking the total flights to six.

The spokesperson said that one flight will take off for the kingdom tonight.

According to the spokesperson, four flights for the kingdom will operate on March 14. The three of those flights will head to Jeddah, while the fourth flight will go to Madina. The last flight will operate from Islamabad and will travel to Jeddah on March 15.

The official said that tickets for three out of the six flights have been sold out.

The PIA took these emergency precautions after Saudi Arabia announced a temporary lockdown in the country on Thursday, directing pilgrims and tourists to leave the country within the next 72 hours in a bid to contain the virus from spreading to various parts of the world.

2:42pm - WHO team visits Jinnah Hospital's isolation wards 

A team of World Health Organisation visited the isolation wards set up at the Jinnah Hospital in Karachi and reviewed the arrangements made for the patients diagnosed with coronavirus.

Executive Director of the hospital Seemi Jamali briefed World Health Organization’s (WHO) Country Representative in Pakistan, Dr Palitha Gunarathna Mahipala regarding the arrangements at the hospital.

2:35pm - SHC bars entry of non-essential people in courts

Sindh High Court has ordered a ban on the entry of non-essential persons in the courts, said a circular issued by the registrar.

The circular states that only those people whose presence is compulsory should be present in the court. While, the SHC chief justice has said that the SHC, circuit benches and related courts should be sprayed.

Earlier, the Sindh High Court Bar Association had urged the SHC CJ to launch an awareness campaign regarding the novel coronavirus. They have also asked the court to check the temperature of the people before they enter the courts.

2:26pm - Universities across Balochistan closed till March 29

Balochistan government has announced that universities in the province will be closed till March 29, said a notification issued by the education department.

According to the notification, the decision has been taken to protect the students from the coronavirus.

2:22pm - Luxembourg closes schools and isolates elderly

Luxembourg has joined its European neighbours in closing schools and limiting visits to the elderly in hospitals and nursing homes, hoping to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

"Daily life is going to change and we will have to adapt," Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said on Thursday, announcing measures of a scale "never seen before" in the Grand Duchy.

02:10pm - IPL 2020 postponed

The start of the IPL 2020 has been postponed from 29 March to 15 April amid the coronavirus pandemic.

02:00pm - No foreign player requested to leave: Quetta Gladiators

Amid confusion regarding foreign players’ participation in the ongoing Pakistan Super League due to coronavirus epidemic, Quetta Gladiators have confirmed that their players are committed to complete the tournament.

“We can confirm that none of our foreign players has demanded to go back so far and everything is normal in Quetta Gladiators’ camp, a spokesperson for the franchise said in a statement to media on Friday.

1:49pm - Schools in KP to close for at least 15 days 

Government officials on Friday announced that schools in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa would remain closed for at least fifteen days from March 14 in the wake of coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe. 

1:45pm - Kenya confirms first case of coronavirus 

Kenya announced its first confirmed case of coronavirus on Friday, saying a woman who returned from the United States tested positive for the illness in Nairobi.

"I want to inform you that the Ministry of Health has confirmed the first coronavirus case in Kenya," Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe told reporters.

"The case is a Kenyan citizen who travelled back to Nairobi, returning from the United States of America via London, United Kingdom, on March 5, 2020."

It is the first confirmed case of the new coronavirus in the East African region.

1:35pm - Any player can withdraw from PSL: PCB

The Pakistan Cricket Board has said any international player that wishes to withdraw from the ongoing Pakistan Super League may do so if they wish.

“All players have the right to leave the league,” said the PCB. It added that players from England had put forward a withdrawal request.

The franchise teams have also limited their activities in the ongoing PSL.

1:25pm - Balochistan CM, NA speaker seek clerics’ help

Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal and NA Speaker Asad Qaiser on Friday requested religious scholars and prayer leaders to spread awareness regarding the coronavirus epidemic during Friday congregations.

They also urged the clerics to pray for country's safety and security from the pandemic.

1:20pm - NA suspended for indefinite period 

The National Assembly session has been suspended for an indefinite period due to the coronavirus.

The ongoing session was scheduled to end on March 20 and has been suspended after the request was put forward by minister of state Ali Muhammad Khan. The request was submitted to the deputy speaker of the national assembly.

The deputy speaker suspended the session after taking the opinion of the members present in the house.

1:00pm - Bangladesh cricket team will not come to Pakistan: report

Bangladesh cricket team will not travel to Pakistan for the for the third leg of their series due to coronavirus fears.

According to media reports, the Bangladesh Cricket Board has decided to not send team to Pakistan. The team was scheduled to arrive in the country on March 29.

12:50pm - Nepal bars climbers from all mountains, including Everest 

Nepal has barred climbers from all mountains — including Everest — over the coronavirus pandemic, in a major blow to its tourism industry.

The Himalayan country, which has so far confirmed one coronavirus case, earns 4.4 million dollars a year from climbing permits while the losses to expedition organisers will be even higher.

As well as suspending all climbing permits, Nepal stopped issuing tourist visas on arrival, Yogesh Bhattarai, Minister for Culture Tourism and Civil Aviation told AFP.

12:35pm - 'Recent coronavirus patient has no recent international travel history' 

Media coordinator to the health minister Meeran Yousuf has said that the patient diagnosed with the coronavirus today in Sindh has had no recent international travel history.

Yousuf was talking about the patient who was diagnosed with the coronavirus today. According to the health department, the 52-year-old had arrived from Islamabad two days ago and was tested positive today.

12:25pm - Former PM Ashraf urges govt to declare national emergency

Former prime minister and PPP leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has urged the government to declare a national emergency due to the coronavirus.

Ashraf, while speaking in the National Assembly, urged the government to shut down the airports of the country for a few days.

He also asked the NA speaker to suspend all the business that was scheduled to be taken up in the NA today and hold a debate on the coronavirus.

12:15pm - Australian minister tested positive for coronavirus

Australia's home affairs minister Peter Dutton said he has been tested positive for the new coronavirus and entered hospital quarantine on Friday.

"This morning I woke up with a temperature and sore throat," said the minister, who is an influential member of the government and a key architect of Australia's controversial immigration laws.

"It is the policy of Queensland Health that anyone who tests positive is to be admitted into hospital and I have complied with their advice."

11:40am - Coronavirus declared as 'epidemic' in Delhi

The Delhi government on Thursday declared coronavirus an epidemic and ordered closure of schools, colleges, cinema halls till 31st March.

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal announced these measures while talking to media.

11:10am - Coronavirus deaths rise to 4,970 worldwide

About 134,530 people have been infected by the coronavirus across the world and 4,970 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Infections outside China have been reported by 125 countries.

Trinidad and Tobago as well as Ghana reported their first cases, while Algeria, Azerbaijan, Greece, India, Norway and Poland had their first fatalities.

10:45am - President Arif Alvi 'to visit China soon' 

President Arif Alvi will visit China soon, a lawyer representing the government informed the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday.

During hearing of a case pertaining to the Pakistanis stuck in China, director general foreign ministry shared that those Pakistani nationals trapped in Wuhan will be compensated.

"The president will visit China soon," lawyer told the IHC. However, the foreign ministry official said that it is not finalised yet.

10:00am - Sindh confirms one more coronavirus case

The health authorities in Sindh confirmed one more coronavirus case in the province on Friday.

09:45am - Chinese CG lauds Sindh govt for extending schools closure

Consul General of China to Karachi Li Bijian on Friday lauded the Sindh government for extending closure of educational institutions in the province.

“Great decisions by #CM Murad and his team for continuing #PSL matches without spectaculars and the schools remaining closed till May 30,” he said.

“It is always commendable that Governments putting people first. Well done, government of #Sindh!”

Earlier this week, Bijian had suggested the provincial authorities to not open schools and extend the closure to contain the coronavirus epidemic.

09:30am - PSL matches without spectators: PCB to suffer losses

The Pakistan Cricket Board is likely to incur losses of around 100 million PKR for having Pakistan Super League matches in Karachi behind closed doors.

The PCB, on Thursday, had announced to hold remaining PSL matches without spectators in National Stadium as a precautionary measure to avoid the spread of coronavirus.

The Pakistan Cricket Board was expecting an income of over 100 million rupees from these games in terms of ticket sales and hospitality boxes deals.

09:18am - Pakistani Marine Academy closed till May 31

Pakistani Marine Academy will remain closed till May 31, Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi said.

Zaidi said that all classes will now be conducted online

The announcement came after the Sindh government decided to extend closure of educational institutions in the province.

09:05am - 1,500 more discharged from quarantine center in Taftan

1,500 pilgrims who have completed their quarantine period have been discharged from Pakistan House, Levies officials said on Friday.

According to officials, they were at the quarantine center for the last 15 days and were allowed to go home after complete screening and monitoring.

Pilgrims from Iran are being kept at the quarantine centers established at the border for monitoring.

08:45am - National Security Council meeting today on coronavirus

Prime Minister Imran Khan has convened a meeting of National Security Council (NSC) today to discuss Pakistan's response to the spread of COVID-19.

According to Geo News, the NSC is expected to decide on declaring health emergency in the country.

Top civil and military leadership will also review the measures taken at the borders and take important decisions on national response to global epidemic.

Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah has also been invited to attend the meeting, a spokesperson confirmed.

8:35am - Canadian PM Trudeau's wife tests positive for coronavirus

The wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been tested positive for the coronavirus, his office said late Thursday.

"Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau was tested for COVID-19 today. The test came back positive," the Prime Minister's office said in a statement.

"Following medical advice, she will remain in isolation for the time being. She is feeling well, is taking all the recommended precautions and her symptoms remain mild," it said.

"The Prime Minister is in good health with no symptoms. As a precautionary measure and following the advice of doctors, he will be in isolation for a planned period of 14 days," but will not be tested said his office.

08:25am - General Bajwa directs army’s full support to national effort

The 230th corps commanders conference on Thursday discussed the latest coronavirus situation and preventive measures taken at the army level.

Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa chaired the conference at the General Headquarters (GHQ). The COAS directed all concerned to contribute to the national effort to counter the pandemic in case of any eventuality.

The conference also reviewed operational preparedness, situation along the Line of Control (LoC), geostrategic environment and national and regional security situation with particular emphasis on the Afghan peace process.

General Bajwa observed that the path to regional stability in the region passed through Afghanistan. “Collaborative approach and patience can help overcome all challenges for which Pakistan is ready to play its part with utmost sincerity,” he emphasized.

08:15am - Coronavirus Helpline in Pakistan

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza has reminded everyone that the ministry of health has set up a special helpline, 1166, for people to call in and discuss any concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

The minister held a meeting in Islamabad to review the situation in the country along with provincial chief ministers, chief secretaries, health ministers, and health secretaries, who tuned in via video link.

08:00am - Coronavirus conference cancelled due to coronavirus

NEW YORK: A business conference focusing on coronavirus has reportedly been cancelled to avoid spreading the virus.

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) was due to hold a roundtable titled “Doing Business Under Coronavirus” on Friday, but decided to cancel it amid fears that it could lead to a spread of the deadly bug, Bloomberg News reported. The CFR also cancelled other conferences scheduled between 11 March and 3 April around the US, reports said.

According to Bloomberg, the CFR’s “Doing Business Under Coronavirus” conference joins a growing list of cancelled or postponed events in New York state, which holds the largest cluster of cases in the US.

The think tank’s website carried a statement reading: “There are currently no upcoming events. Please check back soon for new events.” The Independent has contacted CFR for comment.

11:35pm/March 12 - WHO Country Representative visits Karachi airport, expresses satisfaction

World Health Organisation’s Country Representative in Pakistan, Dr Palitha Gunarathna Mahipala, has reviewed arrangements for coronavirus screening at the Jinnah International Airport and expressed his satisfaction.

“I have spent almost an hour at the Karachi International Airport and I’m quite satisfied with the screening arrangements at the airport. There are two setups for screening and they are quite satisfactory. I have given some suggestions to authorities but overall I’m satisfied with the arrangements”, Dr. Palitha said while talking to The News on Thursday.

11:10pm/March 12 - Sindh's educational institutions to remain closed till May 31

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has announced that educational institutes will remain closed till May 31 over coronavirus concerns.

The decision came in a special cabinet meeting on Thursday at 10 pm.

The extended holidays will be considered summer vacation.

Senator Murtaza Wahab confirmed that schools will reopen on June 1.

11:05pm/March 12 - India announces first coronavirus death

A 76-year-old man who recently died tested positive for the novel coronavirus, an India state health minister reported on Thursday, marking the country´s first fatality from the virus.

The man "has been Confirmed for #COVID19. The necessary contact tracing, isolation & other measures as per protocol are being carried out," B Sriramulu, health minister for Karnataka state, wrote on Twitter.

10:50pm/March 12 - 5,000-10,000 people 'likely' have COVID-19 in UK: govt

Britain has said up to 10,000 people in the UK could be infected with the novel coronavirus, as it announced new measures to slow the spread of the outbreak, AFP reported.

Government chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance said there were currently 590 confirmed cases but it was "much more likely we´ve got somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 people infected".

Britain was "about four weeks" behind the level of cases currently seen in Italy and other worst-hit countries in Europe, he added.

Vallance was speaking after Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the outbreak, which has so far killed 10 people in Britain, "the worst public health crisis for a generation" and warned it would get worse.

"Many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time," he told a news conference at his Downing Street office.