Coronavirus updates, March 27: Latest news on the coronavirus pandemic from Pakistan and around the world

Nation-wide tally of confirmed coronavirus cases crosses 1,300; Sindh govt bans congregational prayers in Karachi till April 5

Web Desk

KARACHI / LAHORE / ISLAMABAD / PESHAWAR / QUETTA: The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan rose to 1,331 on Friday after more people tested positive in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad Capital Territory.

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The province-wise break up of total number of cases as of 09:30pm, March 27, is as follows:

Total confirmed cases: 1,331

• Sindh: 440

• Punjab: 448

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 180

• Balochistan: 131

• Islamabad Capital Territory: 27

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 103

• AJK: 02

Deaths: 09

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 03

• Sindh: 01

• Balochistan: 01

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 01

• Punjab: 03

At least 25,000 deaths have been recorded globally, more than 15,500 of which are in Europe since the virus first emerged in December.

More than 552,000 declared virus cases have been registered in 199 countries and territories of which at least 268,191 are in Europe, the worst-hit continent.

The countries with the most deaths include Italy with 8,165 deaths out of 80,539 declared infections, Spain with 4,089 deaths out of 56,188 cases, mainland China with 3,287 deaths out of 81,285 cases, Iran with 2,234 deaths out of 29,406 cases, and France with 1,696 fatalities out of 29,155 cases.

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


9:30pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — Western borders to remain closed for another two weeks

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Division and Strategic Policy Planning Moeed Yusuf tweeted that Pakistan had decided to keep its western borders, including the one with India, closed for two more weeks. The decision was taken in light of the spread of the coronavirus in the country and the region. 

9:06pm — Lahore, Pakistan — Punjab reports 29 new cases

The Punjab government reported 29 new coronavirus cases, taking the provincial toll from 419 to 448 cases. The development was confirmed by Punjab government spokesperson Musarrat Jamshed Cheema on Twitter. 

According to the national dashboard, the total number of confirmed cases of the virus in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have risen from 176 to 180. 

8:45pm — Lahore, Pakistan — 20,000 prisoners to be released

The Punjab government decided to release 20,000 out of 46,000 prisoners across the province in a bid to contain the coronavirus from spreading in jails.

Sources in the provincial home department confirmed that superintendents had contacted the courts for bail of inmates who are serving sentences of less than seven years imprisonment.

Convicts who are serving a sentence between seven to 25 years imprisonment will have their bails decided on a case-to-case basis. 

8:13pm — Quetta, Pakistan — Two coronavirus patients recover in Balochistan

Balochistan government spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani tweeted that two coronavirus patients in the province recovered from the infection. The two were discharged from the hospital and sent to their respective homes, according to Shahwani.  

7:50pm — Crude oil price reduces to $21.34 per barrel

The downward trend in international oil prices continued as crude oil slumped to $21.34 per barrel, down by 5.58%. The price of Brent oil has reduced to $24.76 after registering a 6% decrease. 

7:29pm — Amsterdam, Netherlands — 112 new deaths reported

The Netherlands reported 112 new deaths in the past 24 hours, taking the country's death toll to 546. The number of confirmed cases in the country has risen by 1,172 or 16%. 

7:03pm — Lahore, Pakistan — General stores to close at 8pm tomorrow throughout Punjab

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said that starting tomorrow (Saturday), grocery stores across the province will close at 08:00pm. He said that the stores will remain open from 08:00AM to 08:00PM throughout the province. 

Buzdar further said that in accordance with the instructions of PM Imran, goods transport will be allowed to operate from tomorrow. 

6:46pm — UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock tests positive for coronavirus

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he tested positive for coronavirus. "

"I‘ve tested positive. Thankfully my symptoms are mild and I’m working from home & self-isolating.

"Vital we follow the advice to protect our NHS & save lives," he tweeted.

6:40pm — Rawalpindi/Islamabad/Badin, Pakistan — People pay tribute to doctors, medical staff by waving white flags

White flags were waived from buildings by citizens who showed their appreciation for the medical staffers around the country battling the coronavirus by putting themselves in danger. 

A photo of Quetta Police saluting the medical staff for their crucial role in the fight against the pandemic went viral on social media. 

6:30pm - Karachi, Pakistan — CM Murad orders closure of shops at 5 pm from today

Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah has said that ha has decided to curtail the operation hours of the groceries shops and stores by three hours from Saturday.

The CM issued the order while presiding over a meeting at the CM House. The meeting was attended by Minister Health Dr Azra Pechuho, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, DG Rangers Major General Omar Bukhari, Home Secretary Usman Chachar, Brigadier Sami of Corps 5 and Dr Bari of Indus Hospital.

6:27pm - Gilgit, Gilgit-Baltistan — Nation-wide tally rises to 1,298

Nation-wide tally of coronavirus cases rose to 1,298 after 16 new cases were reported from Gilgit-Baltistan.

Adviser to information said that the new cases have taken G-B’s aggregate of positive cases to 103.

6:17pm - Global death toll crosses 25,000

The global death toll from the coronavirus crossed 25,000 on Friday after new deaths were reported by multiple countries. While the total number of positive cases has crossed 552,000 according to the latest figures.

6:12pm - Dublin, Ireland — Irish intensive care units set to hit capacity within days, PM says

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland’s intensive care units will be at capacity within a few days given the rate of spread of coronavirus and the health service has plans in place to deal with the demand, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Friday.

“I am (concerned). As things stand, we have empty beds in our ICUs but just the way things are heading would indicate that our ICUs will be at capacity within a few days,” Varadkar told reporters.

“That’s already the case across Europe, it looks like it may happen here so we need to plan for that. We need to make sure we have backup ICU capacity, ventilators, CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines. All that is happening. An unprecedented effort is being made to tool up.”

6:07pm - Stockholm, Sweden — PM announces ban on public gatherings of more than 50 people

The Swedish government said on Friday it had decided to ban all public gatherings of more than 50 people to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“Our resilience is being tested. The aim of the government is of course to limit the spread as much as possible,” Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told a news conference. “The government has decided to ban public gatherings of more than 50 people.”

The new rule will come into force on Sunday and those who break it risk fines or up to 6 months in prison. The government had previously banned all gatherings of more than 500 people.

6:01pm - Washington, DC, USA — IMF MD fears Pakistan's progress is being threatened by coronavirus 

The Managing Director of International Monetary Fund (IMF) Kristalina Georgieva has said that she fears Pakistan's reform to address economic challenges is being threatened by the coronavirus outbreak.

The MD noted that Imran Khan's government has swiftly approved an economic stimulus package. She added that the State Bank of Pakistan has also adopted a timely set of measures.

"To support these efforts and ensure prompt and adequate relief to the people and the economy, the Government of Pakistan has requested financial assistance under the Fund’s Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI)," said Georgieva.

The MD said that the emergency financing will allow the government to address additional and urgent balance of payments needs and support policies that would make it possible to direct funds swiftly to Pakistan’s most affected sectors, including social protection, daily wage earners, and the healthcare system. 

"Our team is working expeditiously to respond to this request so that a proposal can be considered by the IMF’s Executive Board as soon as possible," said the head of the IMF.

5:54pm - Islamabad, Pakistan — PM Imran announces Corona Relief Tigers Force

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday announced the formation of a 'Corona Relief Tigers Force' of youth to help in the fight against the virus.

PM Imran, while talking to the media, said that they will advertise for volunteers to join the programme on March 31.

"Recruitment for corona relief tigers will formally begin on March 31. We are calling upon all volunteers," said PM Imran.

The premier also announced for the creation of a PM's relief fund for coronavirus so people can donate charity to the federal government. The government will distribute rations among the needy through the fund.

Read more here.

5:33pm - Karachi, Pakistan — Businesses to shut down from 5pm till 8am: IG

Inspector General of Sindh Police has announced that all businesses will be asked to shut down from 5pm till 8am from Saturday onwards.

The IG also announced that those shops selling food items for animals and birds will be allowed to open their shops from 12pm to 2 pm only.

5:17pm - Peshawar, Pakistan — CM KP announces Rs32 billion relief package

Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan announced Rs32 billion relief package in the fight against coronavirus in the province.

The CM said Rs8 billion out of the 32 billion has been set aside for the health sector and Rs11.4 billion has been set aside for the provincial government.

The CM also announced that close 1.9 million people will benefit from the Ehsaas programme and under it underprivileged families will get Rs5,000 as a monthly stipend.

5:12pm - Karachi, Pakistan — Arrangements made for ration distribution: minister

Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh announced that the zakat amount of the needy has been increased to Rs6,000 from Rs3,000. He added that they will provide rations to the daily wage earners.

According to the minister, committees formed at the Union Council level will distribute the rations amongst the people. Shaikh said this after chairing a meeting of the committee formed to distribute rations amongst the needy people.

The minister announced that the provincial government has made all the arrangements for the distribution of the rations amongst the people.

4:48pm - Lahore, Punjab — Speaker Elahi donates 25.6 million in relief fund

Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervaiz Elahi in a conversation with Usman Buzdar told him that he has donated more than 25.6 million in the Chief Minister Punjab’s relief fund.

According to the speaker the amount includes one month’s salary of the speaker, deputy speaker, opposition leader and all members of the provincial assembly. The amount also includes a month’s salary of employees above the grade 18 working at the secretariat. While employees from Grade 16 and 17 have donated half of their salaries to the fund.

During the conversation, the speaker told the CM that everyone has to unite against coronavirus and urged the well-off people to come forward and help those affected by the virus.

4:40pm - Lahore, Punjab — Punjab government to release pensions and salaries by March 28

Punjab government has decided to give salaries and pensions to government employees on March 28, said a notification.

The notification added that the finance department has asked the Auditor General’s office to complete work regarding the release of salaries by today.

4:35pm - Lahore, Pakistan — Doctors, nurses presented with guard of honour

Punjab Police on Friday presented a guard of honour to the doctors and nurses performing their duties at Lahore’s Mayo Hospital on Friday.

4:28pm - Madrid, Spain — Spain's coronavirus death toll rises by 769 overnight to 4,858

Spain’s coronavirus death toll rose overnight by 769 cases to 4,858, the health ministry said on Friday, a new record in the number of fatalities recorded in 24 hours.

The total number of those infected rose to 64,059 from 56,188 on Thursday.

4:27pm - Lahore, Pakistan — Buzdar takes notice of patient's death in Lahore’s Mayo Hospital 

4:25pm - London, United Kingdom — UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive for coronavirus

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a video message revealed that he has been tested positive for the coronavirus after he developed mild symptoms of the disease in the last 24 hours.

“I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus,” said Johnson in a video message.

4:04pm - Karachi, Pakistan — Sindh government gives emergency powers to divisional commisisoners

Sindh government has given divisional commissioners the provision to declare emergency in their divisions from time-to-time to dispense their official duties, said a tweet.

03:40pm - Peshawar, Pakistan — KP confirms 53 new cases, nation-wide tally at 1,286

Information Adviser Ajmal Wazir on Friday said that 53 new cases have been confirmed in the province during the last 24 hours. 

Wazir in a press conference stated that inter-district transport in the province will remain suspended till April 5, adding that school vacations have also been extended till April 5.

The adviser stated that the provincial government will engage with private hospitals to increase the testing capacity of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He added that opposition leaders in and outside the assembly have been taken into confidence regarding the coronavirus measures.

Wazir said that the entire government was on the front foot in the fight against coronavirus and urged people to maintain social distancing.

3:09pm - Tehran, Iran — Iran's death toll from coronavirus rises to 2,378: Health Ministry

Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic rose to 2,378 on Friday, with 144 people dying in the past 24 hours, Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said.

The total number of confirmed cases of the disease increased by 2,926 to 32,332, he told state TV, adding that 2,893 of the patients are in a critical condition.

3:06pm - Mardan, Pakistan — PTI MPA from Mardan tests positive

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPA Abdul Salam Afridi revealed on Friday that he has been tested positive for the coronavirus.

In a video message, the lawmaker urged the people to follow the government orders, adding that people should fight the coronavirus not fear it. He added that he will start helping his people again after recovering from the illness.

Afridi was elected from the PK-53 Mardan-VI in the 2018 general elections.

2:56pm - Karachi, Pakistan — Sindh reports 11 new cases, nation-wide tally 1,257

The nation-wide tally of positive cases rose to 1,257 after 11 new cases were reported in Sindh, showed new data shared by the provincial health department.

According to the new data, the provincial aggregate of Sindh now stands at 440.

2:46pm - Jakarta, Indonesia — Country reports highest daily rise in new cases

Indonesia has confirmed 153 new coronavirus cases, the biggest daily rise so far and taking the Southeast Asian country’s total to 1,046, Health Ministry official Achmad Yurianto said on Friday.

The number of new deaths due to coronavirus rose by 9, bringing the total number of deaths to 87, he said, adding a total of 46 people had recovered from the virus.

2:45pm - Lahore, Pakistan — Instructions flouted at Lahore’s Bashahi Mosque

People in Lahore defied government orders and gathered for the Friday prayers at Lahore’s iconic Badshahi Mosque.

Close to 40 to 50 people have gathered to perform the Friday prayers at the mosque when the government had clearly instructed that only three to five people will be allowed to offer prayers.

However, they maintained a distance during the prayers and also prayed for the protection from coronavirus.

2:44pm - Islamabad, Pakistan — Friday prayers held at Faisal Mosque

Close to 40 people offered their Friday prayers by maintaining some distance at Islamabad’s Faisal Mosque.

The Imam of the mosque gave a brief sermon and spoke about the safety precautions related to coronavirus.

2:32pm - Manila, Philippines — Country reports nine new deaths, 96 new infections

The Philippines has recorded nine new coronavirus deaths, bringing the total to 54, the health ministry said on Friday.

It also reported 96 new confirmed cases, the highest daily increase, bringing the tally to 803.

2:21pm - Peshawar, Pakistan — KP police provided with protective equipment 

KP police has provided its officers with safety suits so they can perform their duties without any fear of contracting the coronavirus.

1:58pm - Moscow, Russia — Russia says coronavirus cases surpass 1,000 in biggest daily rise

Russia on Friday reported 196 new cases of coronavirus, a daily record, taking its official total for those infected with the disease to 1,036.

Russia said one more person had been killed by the virus in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of deaths to four.

1:56pm -Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — Country announces $58-billion stimulus package 

Malaysia announced a stimulus package worth 250 billion ringgit ($58.28 billion) on Friday, its second in a month, to help cushion the economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of confirmed infections in Malaysia has doubled this week to over 2,000, the highest in Southeast Asia, with 23 deaths. The government has extended curbs on travel and movement until April 14 in an attempt to contain its spread.

“We are a nation at war with invisible forces. The situation we are now facing is unprecedented in history,” Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin Muhyiddin said in a televised address to announce the support package.

“This unprecedented situation of course requires unprecedented measures. So, my dear brothers and sisters, and the children of this beloved country... please bear with me and my friends in the cabinet and the government.”

The new package largely includes one-off payments and discounts on utilities for people whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic, and to help small and medium-sized enterprises stay afloat and retain their staff.

The government will also set up a 50 billion ringgit loan scheme for larger companies, which will offer guarantees of up to 80% of the sum borrowed to shore up working capital in the corporate sector.

1:30pm - Lahore, Pakistan — Punjab reports 11 new cases, country-wide tally rises to 1,246

The country-wide tally of positive coronavirus cases rose to 1,246 on Friday after 11 new cases were reported in Punjab.

Spokesperson for the Punjab government Musarrat Cheema announced that the 11 new positive cases have been reported in the province taking the provincial aggregate to 419.

1:21pm - Quetta, Pakistan — CM says upcoming week very "crucial" for country

Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal has warned that the coming week will be “crucial” for Pakistan as the chances are that the virus will spread.

In a video message he requested everyone to be cautious in the coming week. He also requested everyone to stay indoors and not go outside and restrict themselves to theirs homes.

1:15pm - Islamabad, Pakistan — Another plane of medical equipment from China arrives in Karachi

A spokesperson of the National Disaster Management Authority announced that second plane carrying medical aid from China has landed in Karachi.

The spokesperson said that the plane has brought 50,000 testing kits for the country which were donated by Jack Ma Foundation.

1:00pm Islamabad, Pakistan — Administration limits congregational prayers

The Islamabad administration also put a limit on the number of people allowed to gather in a mosque for prayers, said a tweet issued by the deputy commissioner. 

According to the notification, only three to five people will be allowed to pray in the mosques due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

The official also requested the people to pray in their homes.

12:42pm - Johannesburg, South Africa — Country reports first two coronavirus deaths 

Two people have died from coronavirus in South Africa, the health ministry said on Friday, adding that the total number of cases in the country have risen to more than 1,000, from 927 a day earlier.

“This morning, we South Africans wake up with sad news that we now have our first deaths resulting from COVID-19,” the health ministry said in a statement.

12:36pm - Lahore, Pakistan — Punjab government limits congregational prayers 

Following Sindh and Balochistan governments, the Punjab government also issued orders that only three to five people will be allowed to pray in mosques across the province.

According to a tweet, the provincial government issued the notification after consulting religious scholars and health experts.

12:28pm - Karachi, Pakistan — Officials urge food operators to use protective equipment 

Officials from the Sindh Food Authority visited various stores in Karachi and urged the food operators and workers to use masks, soap, sanitizers and other protective equipment.

12:25pm - Lahore, Pakistan — Buzdar says won't tolerate food shortage  

Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar told officials on Friday that food hoarders will not be dealt softly in the current times. He added that a shortage of wheat and other food items will not be tolerated at any cost.

The CM also directed officials to ensure that wheat is sold to the people at the right price. He is also expected to meet the chairman of the central committee of Pakistan flour mills association today.

12:17pm - Citizens practice social distancing across Pakistan

Circles have been formed outside banks and superstores in multiple cities across Pakistan so citizens practice social distancing.

11:59am - Lahore, Pakistan — Two doctors test positive for coronavirus 

Punjab’s Primary and Secondary Health Care department confirmed on Friday that two doctors involved in the fight against coronavirus have tested positive for the disease.

The spokesperson of the department stated that the doctors were performing their duties at the quarantine centre in Dera Ghazi Khan when they contracted the disease.

Both the doctors have been confined to the hospital’s isolation ward and are out of danger, said the department.

11:40am - Islamabad, Pakistan — Chinese corporation donates to govt in fight against COVID-19

A Chinese corporation has donated Rs321,000 to the Pakistani government in its fight against coronavirus.

According to a tweet, the donations were made by POWERCHINA Port Qasim Electric Power Company (PVT) limited.

11:33am - Tashkent, Uzbekistan — Country reports first virus death

Uzbekistan locked down more cities and districts on Friday and announced large bonus payments for medical workers in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, as it reported the country’s first death and the number of cases climbed to 83.

A 72-year old man in the city of Namangan died on Friday morning, having suffered from a host of other diseases in addition to the coronavirus, the healthcare ministry said.

Municipal authorities in the province of Navoi, home to large gold- and uranium-mining companies and chemical plants, said they were locking down the cities of Navoi and Zarafshan, as well as several districts.

Authorities in the major tourism hub of Bukhara also said the city would close its borders.

The central Asian nation has already locked down some of its biggest cities, including the capital, Tashkent.

11:28am - Bangkok, Thailand — Country reports 91 new coronavirus cases and one death

Thailand has reported 91 new coronavirus cases and 1 fatality, bringing the total to 1,136 cases and 5 deaths, a health official said on Friday.

The latest death was of a patient in Narathiwat province bordering Malaysia, the health official said.

The new infections consist of 30 patients linked to previous cases and 19 cases including imported ones, said Anupong Sujariyakul, a senior expert in preventive medicine at the Disease Control Department. The balance 42 people, who tested positive, are awaiting a probe to determine how they contracted the disease, he said.

So far, 97 patients have recovered and gone home since the outbreak.

11:25am - Berlin, Germany — Number of coronavirus cases in Germany rises to 42,288

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Germany has risen to 42,288 and 253 people have died of the disease, statistics from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Friday.

Cases rose by 5,780 compared with the previous day while the death toll climbed by 55, the tally showed.

11:16pm - SAPM Awan thanks China for medical aid

Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan has thanked "great friend" China for sending medical facilities, supplies and doctors to help in the fight against the coronavirus.  

11:08am — President Alvi to miss Friday prayers, will pray at home

11:03am - Karachi, Pakistan — Adibul Hasan Rizvi says doctors battling dangerous disease

Founder of Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) Dr Adibul Hasan Rizvi has said that  doctors are battling a dangerous disease.

Dr Rizvi told Geo Pakistan that doctors right now were battling a dangerous disease, adding that they were trying their best and were getting support from the government. He also urged the nation for unity against the disease, which he felt has been missing.

10:58am - Quetta, Pakistan — 23 arrested for violating section 144

Authorities in Quetta arrested 23 people for violating section 144 imposed in the provincial capital, authorities said on Friday.

The authorities said that they have also closed a madrassah on Quetta’s Sabzal Road.

10:53am  - Beijing, China — Trump says spoke with China's Xi about coronavirus

US President Donald Trump said on Friday he spoke with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and discussed “in great detail” the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far killed more than 24,000 people globally.

“China has been through much and has developed a strong understanding of the virus,” Trump said on Twitter. “We are working closely together.”

Chinese state television also reported on Friday that the two heads of state spoke via telephone but did not immediately disclose details about what was discussed during the call.

Read more here.

10:40am - Global death toll crosses 24,000

The global death toll from the coronavirus crossed 24,000 on Friday after new deaths were reported by multiple countries. While the total number of positive cases has crossed 532,000 according to the latest figures.

10:35am - Islamabad,  Pakistan — Nation-wide tally shoots to 1,235 after 34 new cases emerge

The nation-wide tally of confirmed cases shot to 1,235 after 34 new cases were reported in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad, showed the national dashboard for the coronavirus.

According to the latest update, KP reported 24 new cases, Sindh reported eight new cases and two new cases were reported in the federal capital.

With the latest numbers, Sindh's tally of confirmed cases stands at 429, KP is at 147 and the federal capital now has 27 confirmed cases.

10:20am - Khunjerab Pass, Pakistan — China dispatches medical aid through highest land port

Chinese and Pakistani officials braved the cold to deliver medical supplies from Xinjiang province in China to Pakistan through Khunjerab Port.

“Both sides from China and Pakistan braved the cold, cleared the roads, made good preparations for the delivery of the medical supplies at the Khunjerab Pass,” tweeted the Chinese embassy. 

10:00am – Quetta, Pakistan — After Sindh, congregational prayers restrained in Balochistan too

Hours after Sindh government’s announcement to ban congregational prayers, Balochistan also decided to limit the number of people at mosques for prayers.

A notification issued by the home and tribal affairs department said the government had banned Friday prayers across the province at mosques with immediate effect.

Mosques will remain open but only five people can perform prayers, including the prayer leader and four others, it added.

09:35am – Karachi, Pakistan — Emergency numbers increased at commissioner’s control room

The Control Room at Commissioner Karachi office has been reinforced with more communication channels in order to facilitate the masses amid the virus outbreak.

Four new lines have been installed at the command centre. The numbers are: 02199204439, 02199204451, 02199206565 and 02199204452. These additional numbers have been operationalised for the people of Karachi, Commissioner Iftikhar Shalwani said in a press statement issued on Thursday.

Citizens can call at these numbers at any time for any sort of information or consultancy, Shalwani said.

The Karachhiites can also contact on WhatsApp at 01117120316. People can also give information regarding the spread of the coronavirus through this number.

There will be doctors inside the control room for consultancy regarding COVID-19, the official added.

09:15am – Washington, US — US tops world in coronavirus cases, overtaking China and Italy

WASHINGTON: The United States on Thursday took the grim title of the country with the most coronavirus infections and reported a record surge in unemployment as world leaders vowed $5 trillion to stave off global economic collapse.

More than 500,000 people around the world have now contracted the new coronavirus, overwhelming healthcare systems even in wealthy nations and triggering an avalanche of government-ordered lockdowns that have disrupted life for billions.

In the United States, more than 83,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19, edging out Italy, which has reported the most deaths, and China, where the virus was first detected in December in the metropolis of Wuhan.

Read more

08:45am - Karachi, Pakistan — Mufti Taqi Usmani supports govt over limiting congregational prayers

12:20am — Lahore, Pakistan — Buzdar confirms Punjab death tally

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has confirmed that there have been a total of three deaths in Punjab from the coronavirus.

11:57pm/March 26 - London, Britain — UK records over 100 daily COVID-19 deaths for first time

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.

11:50pm/March 26 - Paris, France — France reports 365 more deaths, including 16-year-old

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.

11:04pm//March 26 - Riyadh, Saudi Arabia G20 leaders pledge $5tn in 'united' response

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.

10:29pm/March 26 — Islamabad, Pakistan — Dr Zafar Mirza issues correction for Iran pilgrims' figure

09:50pm/March 26 — Lahore, Pakistan — Punjab health minister confirms rise in provincial tally, one more death

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.

9:23pm/March 26 — Karachi, Pakistan — Sindh govt bans congregational prayers in Karachi till April 5

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.