Coronavirus updates, March 25: Latest news on the coronavirus pandemic from Pakistan and around the world

Another coronavirus death reported in Pakistan, nation-wide tally surges to 1,074; global deaths cross 20,000

Web Desk

KARACHI/LAHORE/ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR/QUETTA: One more patient died of the coronavirus on Wednesday as the number of confirmed cases in Pakistan surged to 1,074.

The province-wise break up of cases as of 11:41pm, March 25, is as follows:

Total confirmed cases: 1,074

• Sindh: 413

• Punjab: 323

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 117

• Balochistan: 119

• Islamabad Capital Territory: 20

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 81

• AJK: 01

Deaths: 08

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 03

• Sindh: 01

• Balochistan: 01

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 01

• Punjab: 02

Globally, 196 countries have been affected, more than 20,000 people have died and more than 420,000 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 26 will continue here.

11:41pm — Lahore, Pakistan — Punjab tally rises to 323

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has said that there has been a rise in the number of cases in Punjab taking the total number of infected to 323 in the province.

Of these, 176 are under quarantine in Dera Ghazi Khan, four are in Multan, 80 in Lahore, 21 in Gujrat, 8 in Gujranwala, 19 in Jhelum, four in Rawalpindi, three each in Multan and Faisalabad and one each in Mandi Bahauddin, Narowal, Rahim Yar Khan, Sargodha and Attock.

11:30pm — Washington, USA — Antimalarial drug no better than standard coronavirus care: study

Hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug dubbed a “gift from God” by US President Donald Trump for its potential ability to fight the new coronavirus, was found to be no more effective than standard treatment in a small Chinese study, AFP reported.

The paper, which was published in the Journal of Zhejiang University on March 6, looked at 30 COVID-19 patients, half of whom received the medicine. After seven days, 13 of the patients who were on the drug tested negative, compared to 14 people who weren’t on it.

One of the patients on it went on to develop severe illness, while the median time taken for the individuals to recover was similar in both groups. The sample size is considered too small to be statistically significant.

But a similar number of patients were examined in a recent French study that found the same drug to be highly effective at fighting the infection, especially when taken in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin.

That triggered heightened global interest in hydroxychloroquine, and a related compound called chloroquine, which are synthetic forms of quinine and have for decades been used to treat malaria, as well as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

11:19pm — Lima, Peru — Peru saves bats blamed for coronavirus

Authorities have called for worried Peruvians to stop killing bats after rescuing 200 that were going to be burnt by peasants believing them to be spreading the coronavirus, AFP reported.

"We must not distort the situation due to the pandemic. Bats are not our enemies," the National Service of Wild Forests and Fauna (SERFOR) said in a statement on Wednesday.

SERFOR called for calm after peasants in Culden, in the northern Cajamarca region, attacked bats with fire.

"The attackers attacked the mammals because they thought they were spreading the coronavirus," said the agency.

The bats were rescued by SERFOR staff and released in a cave far away from Culden.

There have been more than 400 cases and nine deaths from COVID-19 in Peru.

11:15pm — Monrovia, Liberia — Liberian president releases coronavirus single

Liberian President George Weah has released a coronavirus-themed single, using music to raise awareness about prevention measures in the impoverished West African state.

In his "Let´s Stand Together and Fight Coronavirus", Weah explains how the virus is spread and urges hand washing to a backing of harmonised female vocals and upbeat guitar music from the group The Rabbis.

"From Europe to America, from America to Africa, take precautions, and be safe," the former football icon sings.

The roughly six-minute track also describes symptoms and explains how COVID-19 is mostly spread when people "touch their infected hands to their hands, nose or eyes".

The poor country of some 4.8 million people, which has banned travel to and from virus-stricken countries, has recorded three coronavirus cases to date.

11:01pm — Bangkok, Thailand — Thailand bars entry as state of emergency bites

Thailand has barred entry into the kingdom, enacting sweeping emergency powers in a bid to stem the local spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

The measures, which stopped short of a full lockdown after days of vacillation by the government, are a hammer blow to the country's vital tourism sector.

Tens of thousands of travellers remain in the kingdom, facing uncertainty with airlines in chaos and restrictions on return to their countries.

The Royal Gazette announced Wednesday night that authorities would "close all checkpoints and gates" for its land borders, while entry by air and ship will also be halted.

Diplomats and returning Thais who have health certificates will still be allowed to return.

All gatherings are also outlawed, and authorities have asked vulnerable people — like the elderly — stay home.

But festive ceremonies, like weddings or family activities, may continue under rules issued by the government.

The state of emergency will continue until April 30.

Thailand currently has 934 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including four deaths.

10:48pm — Paris, France — Coronavirus deaths top 20,000 worldwide

The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 20,000 people worldwide, most of them in Europe, according to an AFP tally at 1700 GMT Wednesday using official figures.

A total of 20,334 deaths were reported, of which 13,581 were in Europe. With 7,503 deaths, Italy is the most affected country ahead of Spain with 3,434 and China with 3,281, the country where the initial outbreak occurred.

09:48pm — Karachi, Pakistan — Sindh allows early morning supply of goods

A notification by the home department says that early morning supply of goods such as dairy products and distribution of newspapers will be allowed from 5am-8pm despite the ongoing lockdown in the province.

09:15pm — Peshawar, Pakistan — KP reports first two recoveries

According to the province's focal person on coronavirus, Zain Raza, both patients were being treated at Peshawar's Police Hospital and tested negative twice in 24 hours.

08:09pm — Madrid, Spain — Spain's coronavirus death toll overtakes China's

Spain’s coronavirus death toll after jumping by 738 overnight has exceeded that of China, Reuters reported.

With 3,434 fatalities, Spain now has the second highest number of deaths globally after Italy’s 6,820. 

08:00pm - PPP MNA shares example of proper social distancing

PPP MNA Shazia Atta Marri has shared photos to show how social distancing can be enforced in a proper manner, with the required distance of at least 6 feet maintained at all times.

07:58pm — Karachi, Pakistan — Sindh to keep 200,000 Chinese masks, donate rest to other provinces

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has decided to keep 200,000 out of the 500,000 sent by China and will donate the rest to the other provinces.

"Yes, together we can," wrote Senator Murtaza Wahab, in his post to share news of the goodwill gesture by Sindh.

07:33pm — Karachi, Pakistan — Latest figures from Sindh

According to the latest breakdown of cases in Sindh provided by the health department, there are currently 94 cases of local transmission out of 148 cases.

Of a total of 413 in the province, 265 are pilgrims quarantined in Sukkur.

07:02pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — First Chinese consignment of masks, kits has arrived: NDMA

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has said that the first aircraft carrying one million face masks — including N95 — sent by the Chinese government has reached Pakistan.

According to the NDMA spokesperson, the aircraft was also carrying safety masks other than N95 and 50,000 corona virus testing kits.

06:33pm — Lahore, Pakistan — Lahore's universities go online 

A number of public and private universities in Lahore have announced they will be holding online classes in the wake of the lockdown in the province which has brought education to a grinding halt.

A spokesperson of the education department said that thesis preparations are also being done virtually.

The universities to have begun online classes include GC University, Punjab University and Lahore College for Women University.

"Our purpose is to complete the curriculum timely," said the spokesperson. "We will conduct exams when institutions reopen."

6:05pm - Islamabad, Pakistan — President Alvi calls on religious scholars to end congregational prayers

President Arif Alvi has urged the religious scholars to take urgent action to stop the spread of coronavirus in Pakistan and stop congregational prayers in the country.

The president made the request after Grand Imam Shaikh of Al Azhar and Supreme Council in Egypt issued a Fatwa regarding it after he approached him for guidance. He said the religious scholars should act on the basis of principles of Islam from Quran and Sunnah.

"Countries that have stopped congregational prayers: UAE, Saudia, Iran, Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan, Kuwait, Palestine, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt," said President Alvi.

5:52pm - Johannesburg, South Africa — Confirmed cases rise to 709: health minister

South Africa’s number of coronavirus cases has risen to 709, from 554 on Tuesday, health minister Zweli Mkhize said on Wednesday.

“We are now at 709 cases,” he said, speaking on local news channel SABC.

5:44pm - Tehran Iran — Government warns of second wave of coronavirus

Iran may face a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, government spokesman Ali Rabiei said on Wednesday, as some Iranians ignored guidance issued by health officials to contain the spread of the disease in the country.

“Unfortunately some Iranians ignored advice from health ministry officials and travelled during the (Iranian) New Year holidays ... This could cause a second wave of the coronavirus,” Rabiei said, according to state TV.

“All the new trips between cities are banned and violators will be confronted legally.”

5:43pm - Lahore, Punjab — Provincial govt to send close to 600 people to their homes

Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar has announced that they will be sending close to 600 people in the Dera Ghazi Khan quarantine facility to their homes after they were tested negative for coronavirus.

Speaking at a press conference in Lahore, Buzdair said: “I am giving you all some good news. Six hundred people have tested negative for coronavirus at the Dera Ghazi Khan quarantine facility and they will be sent back to their homes.”

He said that the provincial government has approved a "special risk allowance" for doctors, paramedics, and nurses — all medical workers at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus.

"These workers will get an amount equivalent to their salaries," said Buzdar.

Read more here

5:36pm - Mirpur, Azad Kashmir — Thousands stuck at AJK entry points due to lockdown

Thousands of people are stuck at the entry points of Azad Kashmir due to the lockdown imposed in the region.

The people have started protesting against the government’s decision and have demanded the AJK government to grant entry to them.

5:15pm - Lahore, Pakistan — Punjab reports 16 new cases, country-wide tally shoots to 1,059

Punjab government reported 16 new cases in the province on Wednesday taking the nation-wide tally of positive cases to 1,059.

According to the Punjab health department, the provincial tally with the new cases stands at 312. It added that 176 of those cases are of pilgrims, Lahore has 77 cases, Gujrat has 21 cases, Jhelum has 19 cases, Gujranwala has eight cases,Multan has three cases, Rawalpindi and Faisalabad have two cases each.

Mandi Bahuddin, Narowal, Rahim Yar Khan and Sargodha have one case each.

5:03pm - Quetta Balochistan — Province reports four new positive cases, nation-wide tally rises to 1,043  

Chief Secretary Balochistan Faisal Asghar has said four new cases have been reported in the province taking the nation-wide toll of positive cases to 1,043.

Asghar while briefing the media said that the provincial tally of confirmed cases to 119 in the province. He added that the virus cases have been increasing day by day in the province.

4:37pm - Islamabad, Pakistan — One more death reported in country, nation-wide toll rises to 8 

The national dashboard, maintained by the federal ministry of health, reported that another patient of coronavirus has passed away taking the nation-wide toll to eight.

The dashboard has not specified in which province the death has taken place. However, the Rawalpindi district administration had told Geo News that a woman diagnosed with Covid-19 has passed away from the disease.

The woman had traveled from abroad and had been under treatment since March 21. 

Her body has been returned to her village for her last rites.

4:26pm - Karachi, Sindh — Provincial government issues stricter lockdown orders

Sindh Home Department in a notification on Wednesday said that no one will be allowed to come out on the roads after 8pm in the province.

According to the notification, medical stores near hospitals will only be allowed to be be open after 8pm. It added that factories will be shut down for 13 days across the province.

The department has also said that only the factories providing food and medicinal items will be allowed to operate in the province.

The notification also stated that only those needing medical help will be allowed to take the patient to the hospital after 8pm.

4:23pm - Karachi, Sindh — SIUT runs out testing kits, stops service

Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) has stopped conducting tests of coronavirus as the institute has run out of testing kits for the disease.

The SIUT said that they will resume testing services once they receive the testing kits

4:09pm - Istanbul, Turkey — Turkey's coronavirus death toll up seven to 44, with 343 new cases: minister

Turkey’s death toll from the coronavirus increased by seven to 44 on Tuesday as the number of confirmed cases rose by 343 to 1,872, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

He said on Twitter that 3,952 tests had been conducted in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of tests carried out in Turkey to around 28,000.

4:08pm - Madrid, Spain — Spain registers more than 700 deaths from coronavirus overnight

Spain registered 738 fatalities from the coronavirus over the past 24 hours in the steepest increase of the death toll since the epidemic hit the country, the health ministry reported on Wednesday.

The number of reported deaths from the virus rose to 3,434 from 2,696 on Tuesday, the ministry said. The overall number of cases soared to 47,610 from 39,673 on Tuesday.

4:00pm - Riyadh, Saudi Arabia — Kingdom tightens curfew in country: SPA

Saudi Arabia is tightening a partial curfew imposed nationwide to contain the spread of the coronavirus, barring entry or exit from Riyadh, Makkah and Medina as well as movement between all provinces starting on Wednesday, state news agency SPA reported.

The orders, approved by King Salman, also added four hours in the three cities to the 21-day curfew that began on Monday, so that it will start at 3pm instead of 7pm as of Thursday, SPA said.

Saudi Arabia instituted the curfew on Monday after registering a jump of almost a quarter in infections. It reported its first death on Wednesday, in Medina, and 205 new cases taking its total to 767.

3:45pm — London, United Kingdom — Prince Charles tests positive for coronavirus

Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, has tested positive for coronavirus, his household said.

Charles, the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth, is 71 years old.

"The Prince of Wales has tested positive for Coronavirus," Clarence House said in a statement. "He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual."

Prince Charles. Photo: Reuters

"The Duchess of Cornwall has also been tested but does not have the virus," Clarence House said. 

Read more here

3:30pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — PM Imran says nation-wide lockdown to have adverse effects on economy

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday once again said that a nation-wide lockdown will hurt the economy especially if the transport is shut down in the country.

“My opinion is that we should not go to a lockdown where transport should be shut because we will face problems in supplies,” PM Imran said while speaking to parliamentary leaders via video link.

The prime minister added the country went in a state of partial lockdown after Pakistan had confirmed its 21st case in the country.

“There are different types of lockdown. When the 21st case was reported we closed schools and public places. Sindh at the time thought they could do more and went ahead with more measures, while the Centre and I had other ideas,” the prime minister said.

“But because of the media pressure, KP, Balochistan and Punjab also went into an incremental lockdown,” PM Imran added. “I think we don’t need to go into the stage of a lockdown where we shut down transport because that would affect the country.”

He added, “Our construction industry would be affected and out daily wagers.”

“In our NCC meeting tomorrow, I will put forward the notion that the Centre believes we need to assess the situation. We need to reassess the situation because everything has repercussions,” the PM added.

Read more here

3:15pm — Tehran, Iran — Toll rises to 2,077 after 143 new deaths

An Iranian health ministry official said on Wednesday that 2,077 people had died so far from the new coronavirus in Iran, with 143 deaths recorded in the past 24 hours.

The total number of people infected with coronavirus has climbed to 27,017 in Iran.

3:00pm — Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — KP reports 39 new cases 

The nationwide tally of confirmed cases in Pakistan rose to 1,039 on Wednesday after new cases were confirmed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Media person to KP Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra confirmed to that the provincial tally of confirmed cases stood at 117 after 39 new cases were reported in the province's Manga union council.

2:40pm — Jakarta, Indonesia — Confirmed cases rise to 790 

Indonesia has confirmed 105 new coronavirus cases, bringing the Southeast Asian country’s total to 790, Health Ministry official Achmad Yurianto said on Wednesday.

Three more people had died, taking the total number of deaths to 58, he said, adding 31 people had recovered from the virus.

The official said Tuesday’s total had been revised down one to 685 after a patient was counted twice.

2:30pm — New Delhi, India — Doctors evicted over coronavirus transmission fears

Some doctors combating India's coronavirus outbreak have been evicted from their homes by force, a medical association said on Wednesday, due to fears that they may be infected and spread the disease to neighbours.

The country went into a 21-day lockdown on Wednesday, and experts have said it faces a tidal wave of infections if rigorous steps are not taken to keep the virus in check.

Some doctors in temporary residences had been forcefully evicted by their landlords over infection fears, the Resident Doctor's Association of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi said.

"[They] are now stranded on the roads with all their luggage, nowhere to go, across the country," the association — which represents 2,500 doctors — said in a letter to the federal home minister on Tuesday, urging the government to intervene.

India, a country of 1.3 billion, has recorded 539 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and nine deaths.

Read more here. 

2:21pm — Karachi, Pakistan — Sindh Health Department urges doctors to join fight against coronavirus 

2:19pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — CDA to disinfect federal capital

Authorities in Islamabad have decided to spray chlorine and carry out a bleach wash in the federal capital amid the coronavirus outbreak in the country, a notification said.

According to the notification, metropolitan corporation CDA and Islamabad authorities will carry out the disinfection drive, spraying the city with chlorine wash will start from PIMS today.

The notification added that 30 water tankers, fire brigade and MCI officials will be involved in the operation.

2:15pm - Moscow, Russia — Coronavirus cases surge to 658 in Russia

The number of coronavirus cases in Russia has surged to 658, with new daily cases at a record 163, the government's official coronavirus website showed on Wednesday.

2:10pm - Beijing, China — Hubei eases coronavirus curbs; new imported cases decline

China's Hubei province, the epicentre of the country's coronavirus outbreak, started returning to normal on Wednesday as authorities lifted two months of counter-epidemic restrictions that locked down the province and its capital Wuhan.

Mainland China also reported a drop in new confirmed coronavirus cases as imported infections fell and no locally transmitted infections were reported.

Traffic controls were eased at midnight in Hubei, while the lockdown of Wuhan will be lifted on April 8, a milestone in China's war against the epidemic as Beijing shifts its focus towards stemming imported cases and rebooting the economy.

The Hubei government on Wednesday told workers who had been quarantined at home to go back to work as soon as possible.

People were also able to leave Hubei by train and bus, while the Wudang Mountains, a top scenic site, reopened for visitors, according to state media.

2:00pm - Karachi Pakistan — CM Sindh receives testing kits donated by Alibaba founder Jack Ma

Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah received the 500,000 masks and 10,000 testing kits donated by Alibaba founder Jack Ma to Pakistan, said a spokesperson of the provincial government. 

The equipment had arrived at the Karachi airport today.

1:50pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — IHC releases 110 prisoners

The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday released 110 prisoners who were facing trial for narcotics on bail.

The court also ordered authorities to not cause in any problems in the release of underage, female and prisoners over the age of 50.

In a six-page order issued by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, the judge directed director-general Anti-Narcotics Force to form a committee to look into the matter.

The court has ordered the committee to issue release orders within three days.

1:45pm — Muzaffarabad, AJK — School holidays extended till May 31

The AJK education department has extended school holidays in the region till May 31.

According to a notification, the department extended the holidays on the instructions of the AJK prime minister.

1:30pm — Chaman, Pakistan — 800 Pakistanis stuck in Boldak

More than 800 Pakistanis have been stuck in Boldak the Afghan side near the Pak-Afghan border at Chaman, a Pakistani driver said in a video message.

The driver shared that more than 400 trucks and oil tankers have been stuck in the barren land near the border.

“We have run out of money to get food,” he said, adding that they have been sitting under open skies and the Aghan government was also not helping them.

Deputy Commissioner Bashir Khan has said that they are building a quarantine centre near the border which will become operational in a few days.

He added that the truck drivers will be allowed to enter Pakistan once the facility becomes operational.

1:25pm — Dhaka, Bangladesh — Cricketers donate half salary to fight against coronavirus

Bangladesh national cricketers have decided to donate half of their monthly salary to the government fund to fight against coronavirus epidemic, reported the Dhaka Tribune.

According to the publication, 27 cricketers are donating half of their monthly salaries. Among them, 17 players are in BCB contract list and remaining 10 players have played in the national team recently.

Read the joint statement by the players.

"We believe we have many more things to do rather than just increasing awareness among people. 17 players, who are in the central contract of BCB, and 10 other players who took part in recent series for national team; in total we are 27 cricketers giving half of our monthly salaries to help against coronavirus. Maybe this fund is not that much compare to the fight against coronavirus. But if we all together can contribute from our own position, then in combined, it might be a bigger step to fight against coronavirus. Everyone, please stay home, stay safe. Be well and keep our country safe."

1:13pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — NDMA approves $50 million fund to buy medical equipment

The National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF) on Wednesday approved a $50 million fund to buy medical equipment.

According to a statement, the approval was granted on the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan to the NDMA.

1:00pm — Global coronavirus death toll surges past 18,000

More than 420,700 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus across the world and 18,820 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Infections have been reported by 196 countries outside China.

12:45pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — FM Qureshi lauds Turkey’s efforts in fight against coronavirus

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has lauded the Turkish government’s efforts to cope with coronavirus pandemic in the country.

In a telephonic conversation with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday, Qureshi also discussed preventive measures that could be against the virus at a national and global level.

The Turkish foreign minister assured Qureshi of all possible cooperation and support to Pakistani nationals residing in Turkey. 

12:35pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — Federal cabinet meeting underway in Islamabad 

A meeting of the federal cabinet under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Imran Khan is underway via video link, reported Radio Pakistan.

The meeting is discussing the situation arising out of the virus in the country and the steps taken by the government to contain the spread.

The meeting will also review the impact of the epidemic on the country's economy.

Chinese company donates video conference system to Health Ministry 

12:25pm — Karachi, Pakistan — Police deployed at Karachi's Cantt Station 

A heavy contingent of police has been deployed at Karachi’s Cantt Station after train service was suspended across the country.

“No train is leaving from Karachi,” the railway administration said. “Only trains from other cities will be arriving.”

Authorities are asking those who have arrived at the station to return home. “No one is allowed to enter the station. We appeal to the public to stay away till the train service is suspended,” the administration said.

12:15pm — Washington, US — Congress, negotiators reach deal on $2-trln aid package

US senators and Trump administration officials have reached an agreement on a massive economic stimulus bill to alleviate the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, the negotiators said on Wednesday.

The Senate will vote on the $2-trillion package later in the day and the House of Representatives is expected to follow suit soon after.

The stimulus package is expected to boost the economy with a massive infusion of aid, including a $500 billion fund to help hard-hit industries with loans and a comparable amount for direct payments of up to $3,000 to millions of US families.

Other provisions are expected to include $350 billion for small-business loans and $250 billion for expanded unemployment aid.

The aid package also included $100 billion for hospitals and health systems, along with additional money for other health care needs.

Another $150 billion would go to help state and local governments fight the outbreak.

12:00pm — Berlin, German — Number of cases rise to 31,554

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has risen to 31,554 and 149 people have died of the disease, statistics from the RKI health institute showed on Wednesday.

Cases rose by 4,191 while the death toll climbed by 36, the tally showed. 

11:45am — Islamabad, Pakistan — Capital goes under virtual lockdown to contain virus spread

The federal capital administration on Wednesday imposed strict measures to contain the virus outbreak amid a rise in the number of positive cases in the city.

According to health officials, 15 people have been confirmed to have contracted the virus in Islamabad. On Tuesday, the District Magistrate of Islamabad notified the closure of all markets, shopping malls, restaurants, and private offices in the city.

Pakistan's national flags flutter on an army convoy patrolling during a partial lockdown after Pakistan shut all markets, public places and discouraged large gatherings amid an outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Islamabad, Pakistan March 24, 2020. Photo: Reuters 

There shall be a complete ban on intra-city, inter-district, and inter-province movement of people by public transport, the order released by the district authority outlined.

However, soup kitchens and shelters for the poor shall remain functional in the city, the order stipulated. 

Read more here. 

11:30am — Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — 39 people tested positive in UC Manga

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra has said 39 people have been tested positive in Union Council Manga, Mardan where Pakistan's first death was recorded and a lockdown was reported.

Jhagra said the sampling had shown that out of 46 people tested in the UC, 39 were positive, while four samples were rejected.

He added that all those tested were "asymptomatic".

"Further details are awaited and will be released as they come. The information minister and I will hold a briefing shortly,"Jhagra said, urging the people to stay at home and comply with instructions across Pakistan.

11:20am — First batch of equipment donated by Jack Ma takes off from China

A plane carrying N95 and surgical masks sponsored Jack Ma has departed for Pakistan, the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan announced in a tweet.

11:05am - Islamabad, Pakistan — 10 new positive cases reported, nation-wide tally surges to 1,000

The nation-wide tally of positive cases has risen to 1,000 after new cases were reported across the country on Wednesday.

According to the latest update, three new cases have been reported in Sindh and five in Balochistan. One new case each has been reported in Gilgit Baltistan and Islamabad.

10:55am — Washington, US —  Pak embassy to reduce consular services hours

The Pakistani embassy in the US will be reducing their working hours amid the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

“In the wake of coronavirus related emergency measures announced by the US government and to ensure the safety of all, we are urging everyone to use the online consular services and visit the embassy only if it is essential,” Pakistan’s Ambassador to US Asad Majeed Khan said.

He added consular services hours for the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington DC are being reduced and only essential staff will be available to meet the emergency needs.

10:45am — Multan, Pakistan — District administration identifies 95 travellers who evaded screening

The Shujabad district administration on Wednesday said it had identified 95 people who had avoided being screened after returned from Iran and other Gulf countries.

“All the people have been identified and isolated in their homes,” the administration said, adding that health department’s teams were monitoring them.

The district administration further said the people had arrived in Shujabad, Multan during the last 15 days without being screened. “We identified these people with the help of the residents,” they added.

10:30am — New Delhi, India — India bans export of key malaria drug amid coronavirus outbreak

The Indian government said on Wednesday that it is banning the export of hydroxychloroquine and formulations made from the medication, as experts test the efficacy of the drug in helping treat patients infected with COVID-19.

There are currently no approved treatments, or preventive vaccines for COVID-19, the highly contagious, sometimes deadly respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus. Researchers are studying existing treatments and working on experimental ones, but most current patients receive only supportive care such as breathing assistance.

Hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug, is among the medications that are being tested, as a potential treatment for patients with the disease. Earlier this week, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), which maintains a list of drug shortages, said hydroxychloroquine was in shortage.

10:00am — Washington, US — Mike Pompeo says China still withholding coronavirus information

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday sharpened his criticism of China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, saying its ruling Communist Party was still denying the world information it needs to prevent further cases.

In an interview with the Washington Watch radio program, Pompeo repeated previous charges that Beijing’s delay in sharing information about the virus had created risks to people worldwide and said this had “truly put thousands of lives at risk.”

“My concern is that this cover-up, this disinformation that the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in, is still denying the world the information it needs so that we can prevent further cases or something like this from recurring again,” Pompeo added. 

This is not the first time the US has blamed China for the pandemic.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly blamed China for the spread of the virus by repeatedly calling coronavirus the "Chinese virus" during a news conference.

"It's not racist at all," Trump said, explaining his reasoning after a reporter told him many consider it racist. "It comes from China, that's why."

9:45am — Islamabad, Pakistan — PM Imran announced comprehensive national strategy to tackle coronavirus: Awan

9:30am — First batch of equipment donated by China’s Jack Ma to reach Karachi today

Messi, Guardiola donate one million euros each to coronavirus battle

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola have each donated one million euros towards the fight against coronavirus.

Spain is the country worst affected by the disease in Europe outside of Italy, with 2,696 deaths and almost 40,000 positive cases.

Read more here. 

9:00am — Worldwide coronavirus deaths exceed 17,000

More than 395,500 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus across the world and 17,225 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Infections have been reported by 195 countries outside China.

8:45am —  Riyadh, Saudi Arabia — King Salman to chair G20 leaders call on Thursday

Saudi Arabia's King Salman will chair an extraordinary virtual meeting of the leaders from the Group of 20 major economies on March 26 to advance a global coordinated response to the coronavirus outbreak, a statement said on Wednesday.

The kingdom, which holds the G20 presidency this year, called last week for the leaders to speak by video-conference amid criticism that the group has been slow to respond to the global crisis.

8:30am — New York, US — Statewide death toll rises to 210

New York state suffered another quick and brutal rise in the number of COVID-19 cases on Tuesday as the statewide death toll rose to 210, with more than 25,600 confirmed cases.

The White House has advised anyone who has visited or left New York to isolate themselves.

The expected need for hospital beds in New York state at the peak of the outbreak has spiralled to 140,000, nearly three times what are available.

Infections were now doubling every three days in New York and the worst could still be two to three weeks away, said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

8:20am — California, US — 25 million people could be infected in next 2 months, governor

In California, where 51 people have died and 2,200 tested positive, Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday said half the confirmed cases were between the ages of 18 and 49, figures he said are "a reminder for everybody to take this seriously."

Newsom warned that half of Californians — or about 25 million people — could potentially be infected in the coming two months, said the next six to eight weeks would be pivotal in determining whether a clampdown on residents has slowed the spread of coronavirus.

8:15am — Wellington, New Zealand — PM Ardern declares national emergency

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday declared a state of national emergency as the country prepared to go into a complete lockdown at midnight to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

New Zealand's cases of the coronavirus surged to 205 cases as the government imposed self-isolation for everyone, with all non-essential services, schools and offices to be shut for a month.

"From midnight tonight, we bunker down for four weeks to try and stop the virus in its tracks, to break the chain," Ardern told parliament.

"Make no mistake this will get worse before it gets better. We will have a lag and cases will increase for the next week or so. Then we’ll begin to know how successful we have been."

8:10am — Seoul, South Korea — Number of confirmed cases rise to 9,137

South Korea reported 100 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing its total infections to 9,137, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. 

10:44pm/March 25 — Islamabad, Pakistan — CAA suspends all domestic, chartered and private 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 to April 02, 2020

8:39pm/March 23 — 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.


6:40pm/March 25 — Islamabad, Pakistan — Interest rate lowered by 1.5%

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) 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. 

For March 24 coronavirus updates click here.

For March 23 coronavirus updates click here.