Nation-wide tally of confirmed coronavirus cases crosses 1,200; G20 leaders pledge $5 trillion in 'united' response to crisis
Updated Thursday Mar 26 2020
KARACHI/LAHORE/ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR/QUETTA: The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan has hit 1,201 after more people tested positive in Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, KP, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Islamabad Capital Territory and Gilgit-Baltistan.
The province-wise break up of total number of cases as of 12:20am, March 27, is as follows:
• Sindh: 421
• Punjab: 408
• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 123
• Balochistan: 131
• Islamabad Capital Territory: 25
• Gilgit-Baltistan: 91
• AJK: 02
• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 03
• Sindh: 01
• Balochistan: 01
• Gilgit-Baltistan: 01
• Punjab: 03
Globally, 200 countries have been affected, more than 21,000 people have died and more than 470,000 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 27 will continue here.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has confirmed that there have been a total of three deaths in Punjab from the coronavirus.
He said that the Punjab tally has hit 408.
With the addition, Pakistan's total number of cases stands at 1,201.
Britain has recorded more than 100 coronavirus deaths in a 24-hour period for the first time, with 115 people who tested positive for the virus dying, AFP has reported.
"As of 5pm (1700 GMT) on 25 March 2020, 578 patients in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) have died," said the official government website, up from 463 on Wednesday.
A total of 11,658 cases have now been confirmed in Britain, a daily increase of more than 2,000.
The outbreak is concentrated in London, with the head of an organisation representing bosses in the state-run National Health Service warning on Thursday that hospitals in the capital were being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.
The chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, told BBC radio that hospitals in the British capital have seen an "explosion of demand... in seriously ill patients", likening it to a "continuous tsunami", with numbers predicted to surge in the next fortnight.
France has reported that 365 people, including a 16-year-old girl, have died from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours, the country´s highest daily toll.
Top French health official Jerome Salomon told reporters that a total of 1,696 people had died in hospital in France from the virus, emphasising that the toll does not include those who died at home or at retirement homes.
He said that 29,155 people had tested positive for the virus so far in France, adding that the real number of cases was likely far higher as testing was reserved for high-risk patients.
Rights activist Jibran Nasir has questioned the wisdom behind the government's move to allow mosques to remain open for "limited" congregational prayers.
"There is no logic in allowing 'limited numbers' and people under 50. Anyone can be infected causing next #Corona outbreak," he wrote.
He said the decision was a "mockery of all doctors, nurses etc risking their lives out there daily trying to control the #Corona outbreak".
Afghanistan has ordered the release of up to 10,000 prisoners — mostly women, juveniles and sick people — in a bid to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, AFP has reported, citing officials.
The move comes after an increase in local COVID-19 cases and as tens of thousands of Afghans return from neighbouring Iran, one of the countries hit hardest by the pandemic.
President Ashraf Ghani's decree was directed at women, young offenders, critically ill patients and inmates aged over 55, said Attorney General Farid Hamidi.
"This is a responsible decision to safeguard the health of the people," Hamidi told a news conference.
"The decree is not for those who have committed crimes against national and international security."
Prisons chief Ahmad Rashed Totakhail said between 9,000 and 10,000 inmates would be released over the coming 10 days.
G20 nations have pledged a "united front" in the fight against coronavirus, saying they are injecting $5 trillion into the global economy to counter the pandemic amid forecasts of a deep recession.
US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin joined the emergency videoconference chaired by Saudi Arabia's King Salman, who called for coordinated action while facing pressure to end an oil price war between Riyadh and Moscow that has roiled energy markets.
"We are strongly committed to presenting a united front against this common threat," the leaders said in a joint statement after the summit.
"We are injecting over $5 trillion into the global economy, as part of targeted fiscal policy, economic measures, and guarantee schemes to counteract the social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic."
The figure was a sum total of the fiscal stimulus packages adopted by individual G20 states, the Chinese foreign ministry said, adding that Beijing´s share amounted to $344 billion.
Punjab Health Minister Yasmin Rashid has confirmed a rise in the total cases of Punjab to 405.
In the province, another death has also occurred from the virus, taking the total number of deaths in Punjab to three.
Of these, two were reported from Lahore and one from Rawalpindi.
The Sindh government has decided to ban congregational prayers in mosques till April 5, according to information minister Nasir Hussain Shah.
The ban will be in place from tomorrow (March 27). Only three to five persons will be allowed to pray in a mosque.
Taking to Twitter, Sindh education minister Saeed Ghani said his family and staff members had tested negative for the coronavirus.
The minister had revealed a few days ago that he had tested positive for the virus. Ghani has been quarantining himself ever since he received his result.
Bangladesh army has been called in by the government to enforce a lockdown across the country. On Wednesday, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had said that the government will provide free food and cash for people for the next six months.
PM Imran meet focal person for Panah Gahs Naseem ur Rahman to discuss the plight of the homeless in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Special measures for the homeless and the poor were discussed during their meeting.
Information adviser Shams Mir provides an update, saying that all seven of the patients hail from Skardu.
With the increase, the nation's total has hit 1,138.
The environmental department of Punjab University has successfully developed a low cost sanitiser, according to the department's head, Dr Sajid.
Dr Sajid said that the sanitiser is being provided for free to all university staff.
The federal government has decided to "restrain" Friday congregational prayers as new cases of the novel coronavirus continue to emerge across the country.
"It has been decided with a consensus that Friday prayers will be 'restrained'," said Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Dr Noor-ul-Haq Qadri during a news conference. "Only mosques' administration staff and a limited number of worshippers will be allowed to pray inside mosques," he added.
Read more here.
According to an update by the national dashboard, the total number of cases in Punjab stands at 345 and that of KP stands at 123.
This has taken the total number of cases in Pakistan to 1,131.
PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb has announced that party president Shehbaz Sharif will be making a donation of 10,000 masks and protection kits, each, to doctors of the Grand Health Alliance.
The equipment will be handed over to former provincial minister for health, Saira Afzal Tarar along with Salman Rafiq, Khwaja Imran Nazir and Ataullah Tarar.
"The increase has been observed due to increased online activities by educational institutions and businesses and, ‘work from home’ policy adopted by individuals and organizations," says a press release by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.
The economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic has sparked an explosion of Americans filing for unemployment benefits, surging to 3.3 million last week — the highest number ever recorded, AFP has reported, citing the Labor Department.
The outbreak has forced widespread closures of restaurants, shops and hotels and brought airline travel to a virtual halt, prompting the stunning increase in people filing for benefits nationwide in the week ending March 21.
Nearly every state cited COVID-19 for the jump in initial jobless claims, with heavy impacts in food services, accommodation, entertainment and recreation, healthcare and transportation, the report said.
Economists had been warning about a massive increase in the jobless level, but the consensus centered around 1.5 million, which several cautioned was overly optimistic.
The US Senate approved overnight a $2.2 trillion economic rescue package that includes an unprecedented expansion in unemployment benefits to try to cushion the blow until the pandemic is under control.
The spokesperson for the Sindh health department has reminded Karachiites that 102 of 153 cases were transmitted locally, meaning they arose out of social contact.
"Please don't go out unless it's absolutely necessary. Convince the men in your house to pray at home. If you're going to a grocery store, maintain some distance. The curve won't flatten till you start being responsible," said the spokesperson in a plea on Twitter.
According to Deputy Commissioner Tahir Mumtaz, the 37-year-old patient had arrived in Bangrela from the UK.
The health department had shifted him to a quarantine facility two days prior and he tested positive today.
There are now 2 cases in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
05:15pm —Mardan, Pakistan — KP reports 2 more recoveries
Two more patients have recovered in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, according to an update provided by Deputy Director Medical Complex Hospital Dr Javed Iqbal.
Both have been discharged, said Dr Iqbal.
The two patients hail from the Manga village in KP's Mardan district. Given the fact that the virus is present in the village, the two have been asked to relocate for a while.
The two had performed Umrah alongside a patient who passed away from the disease earlier.
According to the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan, China has decided to send medical experts to aid Pakistan in its fight against COVID-19, after already sending a plane carrying medical equipment a day earlier.
"China is preparing to provide Pakistan with more urgently needed and scarce medical supplies and equipment. In addition, China will also assist Pakistan in building a makeshift hospital for isolation," read a report by China Economic Net.
Read more here.
The Sindh government has ordered the release of Rs600 million to families registered with zakat councils and Rs580m have been released for the distribution of ration, according to Senator Murtaza Wahab.
According to the latest update:
- Karachi has a total of 153 cases, Hyderabad has 2 and Dadu 1.
- The number of local transmissions have increased to 102.
- There are 265 pilgrims in Sukkur who tested positive.
Punjab on Thursday reported 12 new cases, taking the provincial tally to 335.
The number of confirmed cases in Pakistan now stands at 1,118.
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif has unveiled a plan to ensure the uninterrupted supply of food and medicines across Pakistan during a lockdown.
The plan envisions the use of utility stores to ensure continuity of food supplies to different districts.
"Citizens should use phone lines and mobile phone applications to order food and medicines to their homes. The distribution of these items should be carried out through Pakistan Post and railways," the PML-N leader said.
"Bait-ul-Maal, Benazir Income Support Programme and other subsidies should be used by the government to bring down the prices of essential items across the country," Shehbaz added.
Read more here.
India on Thursday announced a 1.7 trillion rupee ($22.6 billion) economic stimulus plan that will be released through direct cash transfers and food security measures aimed at giving relief to millions of poor hit by the nationwide lockdown in the country.
“We have come with a package which will immediately take care of the welfare concerns of the poor and suffering workers and those who need immediate help,” said Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, at a press briefing.
The moves comes two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a 21-day nationwide lockdown to try to protect India’s 1.3 billion people from the fast-spreading coronavirus.
Iran reported 157 new coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, Iranian Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur told state TV on Thursday.
The death toll from the virus now stands at 2,234 in Iran with 29,406 infected people.
Malaysia on Thursday reported 235 new coronavirus cases in its biggest daily jump, bringing the total number of cases to 2,031.
The number of deaths from coronavirus rose to 23, the health ministry said.
Prime Minister Imran Khan is chairing a meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) on coronavirus in Islamabad.
The meeting will review the implementation status of decisions taken during the previous NCC meeting.
Sindh on Thursday reported four new cases, taking the provincial tally to 421.
The number of confirmed cases in Pakistan now stands at 1,106.
The US ambassador to London has said China had endangered the world by suppressing information about the coronavirus outbreak.
“First it tried to suppress the news,” Ambassador Woody Johnson wrote in an article for The Times newspaper published on Thursday.
“Had China done the right things at the right time, more of its own population, and the rest of the world, might have been spared the most serious impact of this disease,” the ambassador wrote.
Romanian Health Minister Victor Costache has resigned and will be replaced by his deputy Nelu Tataru, the prime minister said on Thursday.
Romania which has recorded 906 coronavirus infections and 13 deaths, declared a state of emergency on March 16. Hospital across the country have complained about a lack of protective gear for personnel.
UFC star Conor McGregor has spent one million euros on protective equipment for hospital staff treating patients with the coronavirus in Ireland.
McGregor sent a message to the Republic of Ireland's Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and revealed the contents on his Twitter page.
"Today I am purchasing myself, one million euro worth of personal protective equipment to be deployed to all the fighting hospitals in the Leinster region. Our most affected region, to this date," McGregor said.
The Philippine health ministry on Thursday reported seven new coronavirus deaths and 71 new confirmed infections.
This brings the country’s confirmed cases to 707.
The Japanese capital of Tokyo reported more than 40 new cases of coronavirus infections on Thursday for the second day running, Jiji News reported.
The city has become the center of Japan’s coronavirus epidemic, with more than 250 cases.
Moscow will close all shops except for pharmacies and grocery stores, the city’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Thursday.
This measure, which also includes the closure of restaurants, cafes and bars, will last from March 28 until April 5, Sobyanin said in a statement.
Spain awoke to the prospect of more lockdown on Thursday after parliament approved an extension to its state of emergency in the early hours of the morning following a mammoth session of debate.
Parliament eventually voted to extend emergency measures — including the state of lockdown that has seen people confined to their homes except for essential trips for food, medicine and work — for a further 15 days until April 12.
A majority of 321 lawmakers voted in favor of the extension, while 28 abstained. The largest opposition party, the People’s Party, supported the measure.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar thanked CM Sindh Murad Ali Shah on Thursday for donating N-95 masks to the province.
“The Punjab government thanks you for your step,” Buzdar told Shah over a phone call.
“In this time of need, everyone needs to help each other. Through a united front we can defeat the virus,” Buzdar added.
Shah on Wednesday had said Sindh would keep 200,000 Chinese masks out of the 500,000 sent by China and will donate the rest to the other provinces.
Chief Minister Gilgit Baltistan has announced that those government employees involved in fighting the pandemic will get an additional one month's salary.
A GB government spokesperson said that paramedical staff, specialist doctors and waste management employees will get an additional salary. He added that they will also provide free rations to the poor and needy people.
The official added that the secretary population and welfare department has been tasked to create a list of the people.
Leaders from the Group of 20 major economies will speak by video link on Thursday about combating the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impacts, as global infections top 471,000 with more than 21,000 dead.
World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will address the leaders to seek support for ramping up funding and production of personal protection equipment for health workers amid a worldwide shortage.
King Salman of Saudi Arabia, who is this year's G20 chair called for the extraordinary virtual summit, tweeted overnight that its goal was "to unite efforts towards a global response."
Three more people infected with coronavirus died overnight in India as the government sought to improve basic services to 1.3 billion people locked indoors to slow the spread of the disease.
Streets were silent across India's cities and towns on the second day of a three-week, 24 hour shutdown as people heeded Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call not to step out of homes except in emergencies or to buy food and other necessities.
The Indian health ministry on Thursday said the number of cases of coronavirus had risen to 649, of which 13 had died.
More than 470,800 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus across the world and 21,221 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
Infections have been reported in 200 countries and territories outside China.
Iran enforced an intercity travel ban on Thursday, an official said in a televised news conference, amid fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections in the Middle East’s worst-hit country.
A government spokesman on Wednesday had said the country might face a second outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Those who have travelled for the Iranian New Year holidays should immediately return to their cities without making any stop in the cities on their way back home,” Hossein Zolfaghari, a member of Iran’s national headquarters for fighting the coronavirus said.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) said on Thursday that all qualifying events for the 2021 T20 World Cup and 50-overs version in 2023 that were scheduled to be held before June 30 have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"In light of the significant global health concerns at the current time and the restrictions on movement imposed by governments across the world, the ICC has taken the decision to postpone all events up until the end of June subject to further review," Chris Tetley, ICC head of events, said.
Prime Minister Imran Khan visited a coronavirus isolation centre in Islamabad today.
During his visit, the prime minister was briefed about the facilities at the 50-bed centre by Chairman NDMA Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal.
The prime minster also performed the ground-breaking an isolation hospital and Infectious Diseases Treatment Center established by the FWO.
Seven locations in the provincial capital have been declared as quarantined areas, officials documents showed on Thursday.
According to the documents, 25 houses at Canal Road and 50 houses in Shinwari market were notified as quarantine facilities.
Seventeen houses in Hayatabad Phase 3 have also been allocated to be used as quarantine centres.
Adviser to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister on Information Ajmal Wazir on Thursday assured the public there was no shortage of essential food items in the market.
“Nutritional items are being monitored at all levels,” Wazir said during his daily media briefing. “There is no shortage of food or essential items in the market."
Wazir added the provincial government had received a positive response in regards to the steps taken by the chief minister. “People are cooperating with the government and there is a positive response from their end,” he said.
He added that all the departments, including the doctors and paramedics, were working on a war-footing with the chief minister.
“We are monitoring everything and are coordinating with the Pakistan Army,” he added.
Federal capital authorities arrested 116 people and registered 22 cases on Wednesday for violating Section 144.
The administration of the federal capital on Wednesday had imposed strict measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the city.
The authorities have placed a complete ban on intra-city, inter-district, and inter-province movement of people by public transport.
A ban on gatherings of all kinds for social, religious, or any other purpose, whether they be public or private has also been imposed.
Read more here.
Airports in central China's Hubei Province, which was the worst-hit province during the COVID-19 outbreak in China, are ready to reopen as the epidemic wanes due to effective control and prevention measures.
On Wednesday, a total of 50 firemen in Yichang City disinfected the Sanxia Airport, covering 57,000 square meters.
The Liuji Airport also carries out a non-stop cleaning and disinfection. After resuming operation, the airport will use an infrared temperature measurement system to take the passengers temperature and will also set up checkpoints and isolation areas in the terminal building.
Moreover, railway services are beginning to resume in central China's Hubei Province.
Inbound trains will start arriving in Wuhan's 17 train stations beginning Saturday, while departing business will resume in Wuhan on April 8.
Nine new cases of coronavirus were reported in the country on Thursday, taking the nation-wide toll to 1,102.
According to the national dashboard, four new cases were reported in Sindh while Islamabad reported five new cases.
Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit a coronavirus isolation centre in Islamabad today, reported Radio Pakistan.
Chairman NDMA Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal will brief the prime minister during his visit.
Prime Minister Imran Khan will chair a meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) on coronavirus in Islamabad today.
According to SAPM on Health Dr Zafar Mirza, the meeting will review the implementation status of decisions taken during the previous NCC meeting.
The number of deaths caused by the novel coronavirus rose to 1,031 in the United States on Wednesday, with 68,572 confirmed cases nationwide, a tracker run by the Johns Hopkins University showed.
The US has the third-highest number of confirmed cases behind China and Italy.
New York is one of the hardest-hit states in the country, with 280 deaths in New York City since the start of the pandemic, according to the tracker.
Read more here.
Thailand reported 111 new coronavirus infections, taking its tally to 1,045, the government said on Twitter on Thursday.
The Thai government has set up checkpoints on major roads linking provinces so as to increase screening in a bid to limit the spread of the virus.
Entry by non-resident foreigners has also been banned.
Balochistan on Thursday reported 12 new coronavirus cases, taking the provincial tally to 131.
This takes the number of confirmed cases in Pakistan to 1,093.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday urged official bilateral creditors to provide immediate debt relief to the world’s poorest countries as they grapple with severe consequences of the rapidly spreading coronavirus.
In a joint statement, the institutions called on official bilateral creditors to immediately suspend debt payments from International Development Association (IDA) countries, if requested. Those nations, home to a quarter of the world’s population and two-thirds of the world’s population living in extreme poverty will be hardest hit by the pandemic, they said.
“This will help with IDA countries’ immediate liquidity needs to tackle challenges posed by the coronavirus outbreak and allow time for an assessment of the crisis impact and financing needs for each country,” the IMF and the World Bank said.
Read more here.
The US Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly backed a $2 trillion bill aimed at helping unemployed workers and industries hurt by the coronavirus epidemic, as well as providing billions of dollars to buy urgently needed medical equipment.
After bitter negotiations, the deeply divided Senate came together and passed the bill by a unanimous 96-0 vote, which sent the massive stimulus package to the House of Representatives, which could vote sometime this week.
The massive bill — which would be the largest economic stimulus measure ever passed by Congress — includes a $500 billion fund to help hard-hit industries and a comparable amount for direct payments of up to $3,000 apiece to millions of US families.
South Korea reported 104 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing its total infections to 9,241, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
The death toll from the pandemic in South Korea now stands at 131.
Mainland China reported a second consecutive day of no new local coronavirus infections as the epicentre of the epidemic Hubei province opened its borders, but imported cases rose as Beijing ramped up controls to prevent a resurgence of infections.
A total of 67 new cases were reported as of end-Wednesday, up from 47 a day earlier, all of which were imported, China's National Health Commission said in a statement on Thursday.
The total number of cases now stands at 81,285.
All of the new patients were travellers who came to China from overseas, with the mainland reporting no locally transmitted infections on Wednesday.
Washington DC's municipal government ordered all non-essential businesses in the U.S. capital to close for a month starting on Wednesday night due to the coronavirus outbreak.
"This Mayor's Order requires temporary closure of the on-site operation of all non-essential businesses and prohibits gatherings of 10 or more people," Mayor Muriel Bowser's office said in a statement.
The number of confirmed cases in Pakistan rose to 1,081 after more cases were reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
According to a report by the KP Health Department, 43 new cases were reported in the province taking the provincial tally to 121.
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.
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.
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.
For March 25 coronavirus updates click here.
For March 24 coronavirus updates click here.