Coronavirus updates, March 24: Latest news on the coronavirus pandemic from Pakistan and around the world

Punjab reports first death, Sindh reports 10 recoveries; army deployed to help civil administration

Web Desk

KARACHI / LAHORE / ISLAMABAD / PESHAWAR / QUETTA: The number of confirmed cases in Pakistan rose to 990 on Tuesday after new cases were reported in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. 

Punjab reported its first death, taking the total number of deaths to 7. Sindh, meanwhile, reported 10 recoveries, taking the total number of recovered patients in Pakistan to 16.

The province-wide break up of cases as of 11:07pm, March 24, is as follows:

Total confirmed cases: 990

• Sindh: 410

• Punjab: 296

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 78

• Balochistan: 110

• Islamabad Capital Territory: 15

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 80

• AJK: 01

Deaths: 07

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 03

• Sindh: 01

• Balochistan: 01

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 01

• Punjab: 01

Globally, 195 countries have been affected, more than 16,000 people have died and more than 386,000 infected by the disease as it spreads rapidly to new territories.

The epicentre of the outbreak has now shifted to Europe, especially Italy, which is recording a rapid rise in new cases and deaths every day.

Read on for the latest updates from Pakistan and around the world.

Disclaimer: There may be some discrepancy in the number of confirmed cases reported at the country level due to differences in figures quoted by federal and provincial authorities.

Geo News is constantly gathering fresh information from concerned authorities and striving to keep our readers up to date with the most accurate information available.

Orange: All general updates coming in from Pakistan

Red: All reports on new cases in Pakistan

Maroon: All reports on new deaths in Pakistan


Live updates for March 25 will continue here.

11:07pm - Karachi, Pakistan — 3 more 'local transmission' cases emerge in Karachi

The Sindh health department has confirmed a rise in cases of local transmission in Karachi, saying that three more such cases have just surfaced.

The increase in numbers has taken the city's toll of infected to 144 and the provincial total to 410.

10:58pm — Italy — 743 deaths reported in a single day

The death toll in Italy rose to 6,820 in a single day as 743 new deaths were reported in the country. On Monday, 602 people died. That followed Sunday where 650 people died. On Saturday, 793 people had died. 

10:44pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — CAA suspends all domestic, chartered and pvt flight operations

Government of Pakistan, after due consultation with all Airline Operators, has decided to Suspend all types of Domestic Scheduled/Non-Scheduled, Chartered and Private Aircraft Passenger Flight Operations with effect from Thursday, March 26, 2020, 0100 UTC/ 0600 PST upto April 02, 2020. 

10:32pm — Karachi, Sindh — Sindh govt refuses to rule out curfew

Information minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah refused to rule out the imposition of curfew in the province. Speaking to Geo News on Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Saath, he said that the government will make a decision on curfew in a day or two if the situation does not improve.

10:20pm — Karachi, Sindh — Another 10 patients of coronavirus recover in Sindh

Another 10 patients of the novel coronavirus have recovered in Sindh, according to Murtaza Wahab. 

Taking to Twitter, he announced that the number of people who had recovered from the virus in Sindh had now reached 14 in total. 

10:10pm — Peshawar, KP — Nine new ventilators given to KP health department

The KP Health Department received nine new ventilators on Tuesday. The new ventilators have been distributed to Lady Reading Hospital, Mufti Mahmood Hospital in DI Khan and DHQ Bannu Hospital. 

9:30pm — Rawalpindi, Pakistan — Will not leave people of Pakistan alone, says COAS

Army chief General Bajwa said Pakistan Army will not leave people of Gilgit-Baltistan alone as they battle the coronavirus. 

9:05pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — FBR makes it possible for online payment of tax

The FBR has made it possible for citizens to pay taxes online through mobile phones and ATMs as well as the coronavirus pandemic continues to make life difficult for citizens. 

Income, customs duty and sales tax can be paid through the above system.

8:39pm — Karachi, Sindh — City to face 'effective lockdown' 

The Sindh government announced that an 'effective lockdown' will be in place in Karachi as all stores will be closed in the city from 8:00pm to 8:00am. 

Only medical stores will be allowed to remain open. Hospitals will operate 24/7, said Nasir Hussain Shah. 

8:16pm — Karachi, Sindh — 640 Sukkur pilgrims who tested negative to be sent to their respective homes

Chief Minister Murad decided to allow 640 Sukkur pilgrims who tested negative for the coronavirus to be sent to their respective homes. 

After being told that there were 640 patients in Sukkur who had tested negative thrice, CM Murad called on commissioner Sukkur to send the pilgrims back to their respective homes and districts but with some SOPs. 

8:12pm — Karachi, Sindh — Number of positive patients have decreased, says Murtaza Wahab

Murtaza Wahab said the number of people testing positive for the virus has decreased. He credited this to the lockdown, saying that it has still not been 100% successful yet its results are there for all to see. 

8:05pm — New Delhi, India — India announces lockdown for 21 days

The government of India has announced a lockdown for 21 days after the coronavirus continues to spread across the country. 

The lockdown will commence across the country after midnight, tonight. 

The move comes a few days after India experimented with a 14-hour lockdown as the country's train stations and roads wore a deserted look. 

"Have no other option except for a lockdown," said PM Modi. "These 21 days are really important."

8:00pm — Karachi, Sindh — More than 500 arrested in Karachi for violating lockdown

Sindh police confirmed 527 persons were arrested in Karachi today for violating the lockdown. Cases were registered against 122 persons. 

7:20pm — Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunhwa — 40 new cases emerge in KP

The province reported 40 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, more than doubling its count to 78 affected persons. 

7:13pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — FM Qureshi visits Italian embassy to offer condolences

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday visited the Italian embassy in Islamabad to offer his condolences over the loss of life in Italy after the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country. 

7:07pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — Ehsaas Cash Program approved, each family to get Rs12,000

Advisor to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Dr Sania Nishtar shared that the Ehsaas Cash Programme had been approved which will be able to provide Rs12,000 per family to people in need. 

7:03pm — Brussels, Belgium — 34 die in one day from coronavirus

The death toll in Brussels over the past 24 hours rose to 24 on Tuesday. More than 500 cases of the infection have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours and so far, 122 have been declared dead from the infection ever since it broke out in the country. 

6:55pm — Medina, Saudi Arabia — First coronavirus death reported from Medina

The first coronavirus death was reported from Medina on Tuesday as a 51-year-old Afghan passed away due to the virus. The number of cases in the kingdom have increased to 767 after 205 additional coronavirus patients were reported today. 

Twenty-eight people have been cured of the virus in Saudi Arbaia so far. 

6:40pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — Interest rate lowered by 1.5%

The State Bank of Pakistan on Tuesday announced that the interest rate had been lowered by 1.5%. After the decision, the interest now stands at 11%. 

The SBP has undertaken the move to facilitate businesses and exporters who seek loans frequently from commercial banks to run their businesses. 

The global economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus, with the pandemic causing several businesses, including restaurants, hotels, airlines and manufacturing businesses to record losses in billions. 

6:31pm —Islamabad, Pakistan — Stay indoors, do not venture out unnecessarily, says Religious affairs minister

In a special message shared on Twitter, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Dr Noorul Haq Qadri called on Pakistanis to stay indoors and obey the government's instructions about the coronavirus. 

6:20pm — Karachi, Sindh — APC called at Bilawal's request underway

The All Parties Conference (APC) in Karachi is underway. BNP-M chief Akhtar Mengal said that the quarantine camps looked like refugee centres. 

"We should fight coronavirus with lockdown and self-isolation," said MQM-P's Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui. "We will have to fight the coronavirus by keeping side political and ethnic divisions."

Aftab Sherpao praised Sindh government for taking effective and timely measures against the coronavirus. "Federal government should announce a relief package for provinces," he said. 

6:13pm - Faisalabad, Punjab — Police arrest 260 people for violating section 144 

Police in Faisalabad arrested 260 people for violating Section 144 imposed in the province to enforce a lockdown.

The police also arrested that 30 people were arrested for opening their hotels in the city and 22 were arrested for opening their snooker clubs. They added that they have also arrested 110 shopkeepers for violating the lockdown orders.

6:09pm - Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — KP government extends school holidays till April 5 

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Tuesday extended school holidays in the province till April 5, said a notification issued by the government.

Earlier, the KP government had announced the closure of schools till March 31 in the province.

6:05pm - Riyadh, Saudi Arabia — Country reports first coronavirus death

Saudi Arabia has recorded its first death from the coronavirus in a 51-year-old Afghani resident, Health Ministry spokesman Mohammed Abdelali told a televised news conference on Tuesday.

The man’s health deteriorated quickly after reporting to a hospital emergency room in the city of Medina and he died on Monday night, Abdelali said.

6:02pm - Mirpur, AJK — DC bans pillion riding in city 

Deputy Commissioner Mirpur banned pillion riding in Mirpur Azad Kashmir for a month to stop the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

The DC added that only families will be exempted from the ban. He added that cases will be registered against the parents of those kids below 18 found riding bikes in the city.

5:53pm - Lahore, Punjab — Two new cases reported in Punjab, nationwide tally rises to 918

The National Dashboard on the coronavirus pandemic in its latest updated added two new positive cases in Punjab taking the nationwide tally of total cases to 918.

5:50pm - Tokyo, Japan — IOC president and PM Abe agree to postpone Tokyo Olympics  

TOKYO/ATHENS: Japan and the Olympics committee decided on Tuesday to delay this year's Tokyo Games into 2021 as the coronavirus crisis obliterated the world's last major imminent sporting event.

It was the first time in the Olympics' 124-year history that they had been postponed, though they were cancelled outright several times during the two 20th century World Wars.

After a call with International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the July 24-Aug. 9 event would be rescheduled for the summer of 2021 at the latest as proof of victory over the coronavirus.

"We asked President Bach to consider postponement of about one year to make it possible for athletes to play in the best condition, and to make the event a safe and secure one for spectators," Abe said.

"President Bach said he is in agreement 100%."

There was no immediate word from the IOC, though its executives were due to meet later on Tuesday.

5:33pm - Islamabad, Pakistan — Rs1200 bn economic relief package announced: Hammad Azhar

Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar has said that the government has announced Rs1200 billion economic relief and stimulus package.

The minister tweeted saying that the package seeks to provide relief to vulnerable, support the poor, social media enterprises and industries. He added that it also covers on deferment of utility bills of lower income groups, reduction in fuel prices and more.

The package was announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan in a press conference in Islamabad. 

5:25pm - Lahore, Punjab — Shaikh Rashid announces closure of railway services

Railways minister Shaikh Rashid announced that the railway service across the country will be shut down from tonight.

The minister said the decision was taken after PM Imran approved the order put forward by the ministry. He added that railways will be shut till March 31.

5:15pm - Gujranwala, Pakistan — DC holds flag march in city 

Deputy Commissioner of Gujranwala led a flag march with the police and army throughout the city. He added that flag march was done to ensure that the shutdown was being followed in the city.

5:13pm - Cairo, Egypt — Egypt declares two-week curfew to counter coronavirus

Egypt has declared a curfew from 7 pm to 6 am for two weeks starting Wednesday to counter spread of coronavirus, the prime minister said.

Most public service providers will shut their doors during the curfew period and those who violate the curfew will be subject to measures under Egypt’s emergency laws, Prime Minster Moustafa Madbouly said.

5:01pm - Islamabad, Pakistan — PM Imran launches relief package for people

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday announced a relief package for the businessmen and daily wage workers.

In a press conference in Islamabad, PM Imran said that they have decided to allocate Rs200 bln for the laboourers. He added that they are speaking to the business community to not to lay off the workers and government is communication with the provinces to implement the decision.

"We are allocating Rs150bn over four months for families who have been hit the worst by the pandemic. We want provinces to support the government in this regard," said the premier.

The PM also announced that the government will expand the existing Panah Gahs or shelter houses across the country so that people will be able to come there and have food. He added that the authorities will check people for coronavirus before letting them inside the shelter homes.

PM Imran also announced that the government has allocated Rs50bn for utilities so that the common man can come and buy necessary food items. He added that Rs280 billion has also been allocated for the procurement of wheat.

"Government is slashing petrol, deisel and kerosene by Rs15/litre," the PM announced.

Read more here

4:52pm - Karachi, Pakistan — Sindh reports 8 new cases, nationwide tally at 916

Sindh on Tuesday reported 13 new positive cases of coronavirus taking the nationwide tally of coronavirus cases to 916.

The new cases take the provincial tally of Sindh to 410. Among the new cases, 8 were of local transmission found in Karachi and 5 was of pilgrims in Sukkur.

4:10pm - Karachi, Pakistan — Zardari calls on people to follow government orders

Former president Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday called on the people to strictly follow the orders of the government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. He also commended CM Sindh Murad Ali Shah for the taking adequate measures for Sindh.

The PPP Co-chairman also commended the doctors and paramedical stuff for their contributions in the fight against coronavirus.

4:05pm - Berlin, Germany — German coronavirus cases rise by 4,764 cases to 27,436: Robert Koch Institute

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has risen by 4,764 within a day to reach to 27,436, the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said on Tuesday.

It said a total of 114 people had died, an increase of 28 from 86 published on Monday.

4:02pm - Madrid, Spain — Spain reports 6,600 new cases overnight, over 500 dead

The number of new coronavirus cases in Spain jumped on Tuesday to 39,673 from 33,089 cases registered on Monday, the health ministry reported on Tuesday.

The number of fatalities rose to 2,696 overnight from 2,182, the ministry said.

4:00 pm - Karachi, Pakistan — Passengers flock to Karachi's Cantt station

A large number of people gathered outside Karachi’s Cantt Station on Tuesday after the authorities shut down the entry gate of the railway station.

Passengers rushed to the station in a bid to board train last minute. Many of the passengers were at the station without any precautionary measures.

3:58pm - Lahore, Pakistan — Governor Punjab launches coronavirus helpline 

Governor Punjab Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar has launched the Governor Punjab Corona Helpline that will be available 24/7.

According to Sarwar, more than 150 doctors will be available on the helpline and the citizen will have the choice to select a doctor to consult from their city.

The governor said that Nine divisions of Punjab and people from Azad Kashmir can use the helpline  

3:48pm - Peshawar Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — Strict action to be taken against those violating govt orders

Inspector General of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police Sanaullah Abbasi has stated that strict action will be taken against those individuals violating the government orders in the province.

Abbasi stated that 20 people have been arrested from Peshawar and three have been arrested from Bannu for violating government orders. He added that the next two weeks are very important in the fight against coronavirus.

3:42pm - Geneva, Switzerland — WHO sees potential of US becoming new epicentre

The World Health Organisation said on Tuesday it was seeing a "very large acceleration" in coronavirus infections in the United States which had the potential of becoming the new epicentre. 

Asked whether the United States could become the new epicentre, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters: "We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the US. So it does have that potential."

3:40pm — Karachi, Pakistan — CM Sindh constitutes three-member committee to oversee relief operations

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has constituted a three-member committee to oversee relief operations in the province.

The committee will comprise Sindh Energy Minister Imtiaz Ahmed Sheikh, CM's Special Assistant Waqar Mehdi and the chief minister's coordinator Haris Gazdar, a spokesperson of the provincial government said.

The spokesperson added the committee will decide where the ration should be distributed and funds released.

"Necessities should be provided to the poor people," Shah told the committee. He also urged humanitarian agencies to keep doing their work.

3:30pm — Worldwide coronavirus deaths exceed 16,500

More than 377,300 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus across the world and 16,520 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Infections have been reported by 194 countries outside China.

3:15pm — Iran, Tehran — Death toll climbs to 1,934

Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak increased by 122 in the past 24 hours to 1,934, Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on Tuesday.

The total number of people diagnosed with the disease increased by 1,762 in the past 24 hours, to 24,811, he added on state TV.

3:00pm — Lahore, Pakistan — Punjab reports new cases, provincial tally rises to 265

Punjab on Tuesday reported 16 new cases taking the provincial tally to 265.

This takes the number of confirmed cases in Pakistan to 908.

2:45pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — Volunteer programme to be launched soon: Zafar Mirza

SAPM on Health Zafar Mirza on Tuesday said the government will soon launch a nationwide volunteer programme to help combat the spread of the virus.

“Today we decided to launch a training program for our doctors and paramedics under which the health practitioners will be trained on how to properly combat the virus,” Mirza told a press conference.

“We are also working towards a national level volunteer programme as well,” he said.

Zafar also thanked all those who were donating medical equipment, medicines, goggles etc in the fight against the virus.

Zafar added that in the last 24 hours, 89 cases were reported in the country. The SAPM said the authorities conducted a gender analysis of the confirmed cases and found that out of the 892 cases, 63% were male.

He added that 78 per cent of the confirmed cases had a travel history of Iran.

2:37pm — Lahore, Pakistan — First death reported in Punjab

Punjab on Tuesday reported its first death from coronavirus.

According to the provincial health minister, the patient was a 57-year-old admitted to Mayo Hospital.

2:35pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — Finance adviser orders removal of hurdles in providing relief to masses

Adviser to PM on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Tuesday directed secretary finance to eliminate any procedural hurdles that would stand in the way of provision of funds to the masses amid the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

The finance adviser issued the directives while chairing a meeting of the Finance Division to streamline funding for relief measures.

The meeting was attended by economic affairs minister, SAPM on National Health Services, CEO NDMRF, finance, economic and national health services secretaries and chairman NDMA.

During the meeting, the economic affairs minister gave a briefing on the availability of funds that can be utilised for the provision of relief to the people.

Chairman NDMA and CEO NDMRF shared their strategies for procurement of medicine and other relief equipment for timely and effective measures against the pandemic.

The participants of the meeting shared their level of preparedness for dealing with any emergency and showed firm resolve to serve the people in the time of need.

2:30m — Kaula Lampur, Malaysia — Number of cases rise to 1,624

Malaysia reported 106 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, taking the total to 1,624, with 15 deaths.

The Ministry of Health said 43 of the new cases were linked to a mass religious gathering, which has already been connected to more than 60% of the total infections in the country.

Malaysia has reported the highest number of cases in Southeast Asia

2:15pm — Manila, Philippines — 90 new infections, two deaths reported

The Philippine health ministry reported 90 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, the single largest daily increase of confirmed cases in the country, bringing the total to 552.

The country also reported two new deaths taking the nation-wide toll to 35.

2:00pm — Lahore, Pakistan — Railways ministry withdraws service suspension notification

A notification suspending railways operation in the country has been taken back.

“A new notification will be issued after a meeting between the prime minister and railways minister,” a spokesperson for the ministry said.

Earlier a notification ordering suspension of all operations tills March 31 had been issued by the department.

Here’s how you can help govt of Pakistan fight coronavirus 

1:55pm — Lahore, Pakistan — LWMC disinfects areas in Lahore

The Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) has started disinfecting different areas of Lahore to stop the transmission of COVID19.

The LWMC is disinfecting major roads, squares, bus stands and other public places in the cities and will be carrying out the operation on a daily basis to defeat the epidemic, tweeted the Punjab government.

1:45pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — CDA to launch application to provide services online

Capital Development Authority will launch a mobile application to provide 43 various services to the public online.

The application will be launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday and will ensure that essential services are being provided to the public.

Through the app, citizens can avail services such as e-policing, emergency services, domicile and CNIC requests.

The app has been launched so people can avoid long queues.

1:30pm — Lahore, Pakistan — Railway service suspended till March 31

Ministry of Railways orders the suspension of all operations tills March 31, a notification issued by the department said. 

1:15pm — Quetta, Balochistan — Provincial government announces five-day public holiday

Balochistan government announced a five-day public holiday starting from today till March 28 to stop the spread of coronavirus.

According to a notification, the decision has been taken to ensure social distancing is practised by the people in the province.

1:00pm — Peshawar, Pakistan — PHC orders closure of courts till March 28

Peshawar High Court on Tuesday issued orders for the closure of courts till March 28.

According to a notification, only two single benches will hear urgent cases only, while one judge will hear cases in every district.

12:50pm Lahore, Pakistan — Shehbaz Sharif says not the time to be political

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif says this is not the time to be political and the entire nation needed to come together to combat the pandemic.

In his address, the PML-N president said we stand with the families of those who passed away from the virus. 

“Today the number of cases in the country sand at 892 and a positive case of the virus was reported in a prison,” he said.

“I was in London with my brother. Nawaz sent me to Pakistan when the pandemic broke in Pakistan,” Shehbaz added.

The PML-N president added that this was not the time to do politics. “We need to come together at this time and play out part in combating the virus. The political leadership had called for a lockdown but it did not happen.”

“It is good to see the provinces taking action, even Punjab and enforcing the lockdown” he noted.

“Time demands that we turn this challenge into an opportunity and become a nation together and like a nation we should be united and face the challenge,” he remarked.

“I believe we will come out of this challenge,” Shehbaz added.

Read more here. 

12:35pm — Chain and retail stores association seek relief package

The Chainstore Association of Pakistan in a letter to the finance adviser Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Tuesday requested to be given a relief package in the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The association has asked the adviser to suspend all taxes until the crisis was not resolved. They added that an SRO should be released for lower taxes and turnover tax should be abolished at once.

They have also urged the adviser to release refunds of sales tax and income tax and asked Shaikh to direct FBR to not send notice to retailers.

They also asked the adviser to suspend electricity and gas bills for three months.

12:25pm — Tokyo, Japan — PM Abe says Olympics may be postponed due to coronavirus

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said for the first time on Monday that the Tokyo Olympic Games may need to be postponed if the event cannot be held in its “complete form” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Sunday after an emergency meeting that it is stepping up its “scenario planning” for the 2020 Games due to start on July 24, including a possible postponement.

Abe said while cancelling the Games was not an option, a delay was now on the cards if the event could not be held in its complete form.

“If that becomes difficult, we may have no option but to consider postponing the Games,” he told parliament.

12:17pm — Lahore, Pakistan — Yasmin Rashid urges people to stay indoor

Punjab Health Minister Yasmin Rashid urged people to stay indoors and practise social distancing to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.

The provincial health minister also urged well-off people to help those in need in this difficult time.

12:10pm — Karachi, Pakistan — District courts suspend civil cases on orders of SHC

District courts on Tuesday suspended civil cases on the orders of the Sindh High Court chief justice.

According to a circular issued by district and session judge of South, session courts will only hear pleas related to bail and remand.

Employees over the age of 50 and women have also been sent on leave, while, the rest of the staff has been allotted duties according to rotation.

12:05pm — Phoenix, Arizona — Man dies after taking chloroquine for coronavirus

An Arizona man has died and his wife is in critical condition after they ingested chloroquine phosphate — an aquarium cleaning product similar to drugs that have been named by President Trump as potential treatments for coronavirus infection.

The couple, in their 60s, experienced immediate distress after swallowing the drug, according to Banner Health Hospital in Phoenix.

Chloroquine phosphate shares the same active ingredient as malaria drugs that President Trump has touted as possibly effective against COVID-19, the potentially life-threatening disease caused by the coronavirus.

"Chloroquine, a malaria medication, should not be ingested to treat or prevent this virus," Banner Health said in a statement on Monday.

There are currently no vaccines or treatments approved for the disease, but researchers are studying existing treatments and working on experimental ones. 

12:00pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — FM Qureshi calls French counter-part, emphasis on collective efforts to combat virus

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has emphasised on collective efforts to deal with the challenge of coronavirus pandemic during a call with his French counterpart, reported Radio Pakistan.

In a telephonic conversation with Jean-Yves Le Drian on Tuesday, Qureshi expressed sorrow and grief over the deaths due to the virus in France.

The foreign minister thanked his French counterpart for providing timely medical treatment and taking care of 13 Pakistanis affected by the virus in France.

Both the foreign ministers agreed to continue the consultative process to deal with the pandemic and promote bilateral cooperation.

11:45am — Karachi, Sindh — Sindh reports more cases, nation-wide tally rises to 892

The number of confirmed cases in the country rose to 892 after Sindh reported more cases.

According to the Command and Control Centre, there are 249 cases in Punjab, Balochistan has reported 110 cases, while one case has been reported from Azad Jammu and Kashmir. 

In Islamabad, 15 patients have been confirmed to have contracted the virus.

11:40am —  Karachi, Pakistan — Trading halted at PSX

Trading at the Pakistan Stock Exchange halted on Tuesday after the KSE-100 index fell by 1,826 points and ended up at 28,840 soon after the market opened at 11am.

11:35am — Peshawar, Pakistan — KP working on Corona Response digital platform

11:30am — Beijing, China — China to lift travel curbs on Hubei province, including Wuhan 

The Health Commission for China's Hubei province said on Tuesday it will remove all travel restrictions in and out of the province on March 25, with the exception of the city of Wuhan, the provincial capital and the epicentre of the country's coronavirus outbreak.

Travel restrictions for leaving Wuhan will be lifted on April 8, and people will be able to leave on the basis of using a health code, the commission said. The city has been under lockdown since January  23.

11:15am — Islamabad, Pakistan — IHC orders release of prisoners on bail

The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday ordered the release of low-risk prisoners on bail amidst the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued written orders for the conditional release of the prisoners.

Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Hamza Shafqat had told the court during the hearing that 17 prisoners would be released on the condition that they submit surety bonds.

10:30am - Manila, Philippines — ADB staffer tests positive for virus

The Asian Development Bank on Tuesday announced the first case of a staff who has tested positive for COVID-19.

“We are providing care and support to our colleague and wish the staff member a speedy recovery,” said ADB Vice-President for Administration and Corporate Management Deborah Stokes.

10:30am - Karachi, Pakistan — Saeed Ghani urges public to stay indoors

Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani once again urged the public to stay indoors after he tested positive for coronavirus.

“Citizens need to be responsible,” Ghani told Geo Pakistan on Tuesday.

Ghani, who announced on Monday evening that he had tested positive for the virus, said he was feeling fine and practising self-isolation. “I am in isolation and dispensing my duties as much as I can. I did not have any symptoms of the virus which is why I was surprised when the test came back positive,” the minister said.

He added that we will speak to the doctors about the asymptomatic issue.

Responding to a question about the lockdown in the province, Ghani said they were trying their best to make sure that everyone stays inside during the 15-day time.

“It is not easy for us to drag people into their homes. People themselves need to realise how serious the issue is. If they go outside they are likely to catch the virus and pass it on to others,” he said.

In response to another question, the minister said the army’s help was not only sought to enforce lockdown, but their medical corps was also helping the government in establishing isolation centres and field hospital.

When asked how the government would tackle the issue of uninterrupted supply of water and gas during the lockdown, Ghani said, the authorities had discussed the matter with related agencies.

“We have spoken to HESCO and PEPCO about zero-load shedding during the lockdown. SSG has also assured us of uninterrupted gas supply,” he said. “KWSB has been told to ensure an uninterrupted supply of water and to keep a check on sanitation.”

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto appeals to public to cooperate with Sindh govt

10:15am — Islamabad, Pakistan — PM Imran to not attend parliamentary leaders meeting

Prime Minister Imran Khan will not attend a meeting of parliamentary leaders of the Senate and National Assembly, convened by NA Speaker Asad Qasier on Wednesday at the Parliament House.

The meeting which will discuss the situation regarding the coronavirus outbreak in the country and its fiscal impact on the national economy will also look to evolve methods to overcome the fallout of the virus. 

10:00am — Islamabad, Pakistan — Country may face 12.3mn to 18.53mn layoffs, study finds

Pakistan could expect 12.3 million to 18.53 million layoffs out of those employed in different sectors of the economy in the aftermath of partial or complete shutdown due to the countrywide outbreak of coronavirus.

Three renowned economists belonging to the Planning Commission’s think tank – Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) – have compiled the study.

Dr Nasir, Naseem Faraz and Mahmood Khalid, in their research paper, “Sectoral Analysis of the Vulnerable Employed COVID-19 and Pakistan’s Labor Market” stated that all the provinces in Pakistan are now experiencing lockdowns, though of different intensities, to ‘flatten the curve’ of the spread of pandemic COVID-19.

9:45am — Karachi, Pakistan — Sindh makes ‘violation of quarantine order by coronavirus patient a punishable offence’

The Sindh government on Monday issued strict orders and announced that the violation of quarantine order by any coronavirus patient is a punishable offence. The government declared that COVID-19 patients are legally bound to isolate themselves at home or at the designated isolation centres.

The patients are bound to inform the health officials about their health condition in pursuance of the Sindh Epidemic Disease Act-2014.

The notification states: Whereas there has been an increase in the number of coronavirus cases in Sindh, which are expected to rise expeditiously, therefore, the Government of Sindh, in exercise of powers conferred under Section 3 of the Sindh Epidemic Diseases Act 2014 is pleased to notify following measures to be observed to prevent the outbreak of coronavirus with immediate effect and until further order: All those persons who have been declared positive of coronavirus shall immediately isolate themselves at home under intimation to relevant health teams of the health department or in specified isolation centres established by the government, and shall remain in isolation till complete recovery.

9:30am — Lahore, Pakistan — Punjab needs Rs83bn to cope with crisis

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government in Punjab has estimated that it would need more than Rs83 billion to deal with the coronavirus situation,  reported The News on Tuesday.

The calculation was been done by the steering committee on Punjab’s recovery plan for economic stabilisation in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The committee is headed by Punjab Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakhat, with representation from various departments and bodies including Finance, Health, Labour, Irrigation, UK’s Department for International Development (DfID), Sub-National Governance Programme (SNG), Punjab Social Protection Authority (PSPA), Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) and Urban Unit, etc.

More than 15,000 people are likely to be infected with coronavirus in the province, while the casualties could stand between 700 to 2,200, with an expected death rate of 5-15% among the patients.

The estimates have been made for March 15 to May 24, 2020 duration based on current spread rate of Covid-19 in the province.

The committee said the estimates have been made for preparations and planning to cope with the situation, which seems to be in control currently. The steering committee estimated that Punjab would need huge funds of more than Rs83.15 billion with immediate support from the federal government during the next 12 months. 

Coronavirus pandemic 'accelerating': WHO chief

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9:15am — Lahore, Pakistan — Punjab reports more cases

Punjab on Tuesday reported three new coronavirus cases, taking the provincial tally to 249.

This takes the number of confirmed cases in Pakistan to 887. 

9:10am - Washington, US — United States condoles death of Pakistani doctor

Senior US diplomat Alice Wells on Tuesday expressed her condolences at the passing of Dr Osama Riaz who lost his life while treating coronavirus patients.

In a statement, Wells saluted all the brave medical workers across South and Central Asia who were risking their lives to help the sick and keep everyone safe.

“Saddened to hear of the death of Dr Usama Riaz, who was on the frontlines of the fight against coronavirus in Pakistan. The US stands with you,” she said.