Coronavirus updates, May 18: Latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic from Pakistan and around the world

Nationwide death toll crosses 920, confirmed cases cross 43,000; global coronavirus deaths exceed 312,000

Web Desk

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan rose to 43,798 on Sunday after new infections were confirmed in the country.

The province-wise break up of the total number of cases as of 11:42pm, May 18, is as follows:

Total confirmed cases: 43,798

• Sindh: 17,241

• Punjab: 15,976

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 6,230

• Balochistan: 2,692

• Islamabad Capital Territory: 997

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 550

• AJK: 112

Deaths: 936

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 334

• Sindh: 280

• Punjab: 273

• Balochistan: 37

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 4

• Islamabad Capital Territory: 7

• AJK: 1

Officials have recorded more than 4.7 million cases and more than 312,000 deaths since the virus emerged in China in December.

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: General updates coming in from Pakistan

Red: Reports on new cases in Pakistan

Maroon: Reports on new deaths in Pakistan

Green: Reports on recovered patients in Pakistan


  1. Live updates for May 19 will begin here.

11:59pm — New Delhi, India — Capital reopens public transport 

India’s capital New Delhi and some other state governments ordered the re-opening of public transport in a further easing of a nearly two-month coronavirus shutdown, Reuters reported.

Under the new rules, buses, taxis and three-wheelers will return to the streets but with restrictions. Buses will not carry more than 20 passengers, each of whom will be screened before boarding, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said.

“Corona will stay, and we will also survive,” Kejriwal said, outlining the new guidelines for the city of 20 million people that has one of highest numbers of coronavirus cases in the country.

11:50pm — Abu Dhabi, UAE — Govt to expand nightly curfew after increase in coronavirus cases

The United Arab Emirates will extend a nightly curfew by two hours starting this week after reporting an increase in the number of novel coronavirus cases, an official said, Reuters reported.

The curfew, which currently runs from 10pm-6am, would start at 8pm as of Wednesday until further notice, Saif Al Dhaheri, spokesman for the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, told a news conference.

The UAE on Monday reported 832 new infections and four deaths from the virus to take its count to 24,190 cases with 224 deaths.

11:42pm — Lahore, Pakistan — Punjab records 13 deaths, 630 new cases 

11:39pm — Washington, US  — China's $2 billion WHO pledge a 'token,': US

The United States said China must pay more than the $2 billion it committed to the World Health Organization, calling the pledge a token to distract from what the Trump administration claims was Beijing’s failure to properly alert the world to the coronavirus outbreak.

China’s commitment “is a token to distract from calls from a growing number of nations demanding accountability for the Chinese government’s failure to meet its obligations ... to tell the truth and warn the world of what was coming,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot said in a statement.

11:22pm — Geneva, Switzerland — Syrian minister says Western sanctions hitting health services

Syria’s health minister told the World Health Organisation that “coercive and unfair” Western sanctions were hitting medical services trying to cope with coronavirus in his war-torn country and called for their removal.

“The economic sanctions which are coercive and unfair have been impeding the capacities of many essential services, in particular healthcare services,” Health Minister Nizar Yazigi told a virtual WHO annual assembly, referring to European Union and US sanctions.

“We call once more on the removal of these measures so we can ensure the health and safety of our citizens,” he added, calling the sanctions an “inhumane blockade”.

11:20pm — Gilgit, Pakistan — Daily trend of COVID-19 cases in GB

11:18pm — Berlin, Germany — Coronavirus turns Germans more critical of US: survey

Germans view the United States less positively since the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis while their attitudes towards China have improved, a survey showed, Reuters reported.

In the poll of 1,000 Germans conducted by Kantar Public for the Koerber Foundation, 73% stated their opinion about the United States had deteriorated due to the current health crisis.

This contrasted with 36% of respondents who said their views about China, where the new coronavirus was discovered late last year, had become more negative due to the pandemic.

One out of four survey participants said that their opinion of China had improved. Still, 71% backed the statement that China could have been more transparent in its crisis management to slow down the spread of the virus.

The shift in attitudes means that only 37% of Germans still want closer ties with the United States, sharply down from 50% in the last survey conducted in September 2019.

This compares with 36% who are in favour of closer ties with China, clearly up from 24% in the previous pool.

“Germans’ scepticism about the United States is growing, a worrying trend that should give political decision-makers on both sides of the Atlantic food for thought”, said Nora Mueller, an expert on international affairs at the Koerber Foundation.

11:00pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — Senior FO officials extend warm welcome to students returning home from Wuhan

10:43pm — Famed singer Hadiqa Kiani tells us why warning masks is important

10:37pm — Lahore, Pakistan — Booking for train tickets to begin at 12am today

A spokesperson for the railway ministry said booking for train tickets would begin from 12am today and that after 60% of the total capacity is reached the booking will be closed. 

40% of the space in the train should be left vacant in order to maintain social distancing, the spokesperson added. 

Children and coronavirus 

10:22pm — Karachi, Pakistan — Sindh to allow shops to operate till 5pm

Education Minister Sindh Saeed Ghani said that shops will be allowed to operate till 5pm.

Ghani, speaking in Geo News’ programme Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath, said: “I hope that the Supreme Court of Pakistan will not take a decision that will leave the people at the mercy of the virus.”

He said that Sindh would follow the directives of the apex court in regard to easing the lockdown.

10:16pm — Riyadh, Saudi Arabia — Over 2,500 cases reported

Saudi Arabia reported 2,593 new cases, taking the total toll to 57.345, the Ministry of Health confirmed.

The ministry further informed that 44% of the patients were Saudi nationals, while 56% were expatriates.

10:08pm — Geneva, Switzerland — We need a strong WHO to tackle the pandmeic: Emmanuel Macron

10:02pm — Karachi, Pakistan — Sindh's cases at a glance 

9:54pm — Ankara, Turkey — Erdogan announces a four-day nationwide lockdown on Eid, says schools will not open this year

9:48pm — New York, US — COVID-19 is a ‘wake-up call’

9:42pm — Russia looks to US for aid as new coronavirus cases drop to lowest since May 1

Russia is working on getting reciprocal medical aid from the United States, Moscow said after the country reported its lowest overnight rise in coronavirus cases since May 1.

But Russia, whose tally of 290,678 cases is the second highest after the United States, said the situation remained difficult after officials reported 8,926 new infections.

This marked the third day in a row that the figure was below the 10,000 mark which it has been above for most of this month.

Meanwhile, Moscow is working on securing supplies of reciprocal medical aid from the United States to help it combat the coronavirus, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Sergei Ryabkov said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Washington was sending Moscow some testing equipment and medical ventilators to help it manage the crisis and that the equipment was “on its way”, the Washington Examiner reported on Sunday.

Although Russia sent a batch of Russian-made medical ventilators to the United States in early April, U.S. officials say they were not needed in the end.

9:36pm — Lahore, Pakistan — Punjab revokes decision to impose strict lockdown for three days

Punjab government revoked the decision to impose a strict lockdown in the province for three days — Fridays, Saturday, and Sundays — in a meeting chaired by provincial minister for law Raja Basharat.

The meeting decided that implementation of SOPs will be ensured and that the shops would open from 8am-5pm.

9:30pm — London, UK — Quarantine details to be set out soon

Britain will set out the final details of its coronavirus quarantine plan early next month and will consider different measures for travellers arriving from countries with low infection levels, transport minister Grant Shapps said, Reuters reported.

The government plans a 14-day quarantine for most arrivals to try to prevent a second peak of the pandemic. Earlier Heathrow Airport said Britain should set up “travel bubbles” with low-risk countries to allow the movement of people.

“The final details of the quarantine scheme will be released soon, early next month,” Shapps told parliament on when asked about the possibility of exemptions.

“We should indeed consider further improvements, for example things like air bridges enabling people from other countries who have themselves achieved lower levels of coronavirus infection to come to the country. So those are active discussions but will go beyond what will initially be a blanket situation.”

9:23pm — Uber says cutting 3,000 jobs and trimming investment

 Uber on Monday announced it is cutting a quarter of its global workforce and trimming investment to survive the financial hit to its business from the coronavirus pandemic, AFP reported.

The San Francisco-based company is laying off about 3,000 people and stopping some investments unrelated to its core ride-share and delivery businesses, according to chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi.

"Given the dramatic impact of the pandemic, and the unpredictable nature of any eventual recovery, we are concentrating our efforts on our core mobility and delivery platforms and resizing our company to match the realities of our business," Khosrowshahi said.

9:15pm — New York, US — People observe distancing in Domino Park 

9:06pm — Rabat, Morocco — Coronavirus lockdown extended till June 10

Morocco is set to extend its national lockdown to contain the spread of the new coronavirus until June 10, Prime Minister Saad Dine El Otmani said, Reuters reported.

Morocco had confirmed 6,930 coronavirus cases, including 192 deaths, by Monday morning, as the rise of hotspots within families and factories complicates efforts to curb infections.

9:00pm — Abuja, Nigeria — 'Precision lockdown' to be imposed in coronavirus hotspots

Nigeria will impose “precision” lockdown measures in areas that report rapid increases in cases of the new coronavirus but it will slow the phased reopening of the economy, the head of its task force said, Reuters reported.

The government also extended a full lockdown in the northern economic hub of Kano state, which has the second highest number of confirmed cases in the country behind the commercial capital Lagos, and where authorities are investigating a spate of mysterious deaths.

The government said its phased reopening of strict lockdowns in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun states would also go more slowly than initially planned, and the current phase of the gradual reopening would last a further two weeks.

“Nigeria is not yet ready for full opening of the economy and tough decisions have to be taken for the good of the greater majority,” said Boss Mustapha, the chairman of Nigeria’s presidential task force for COVID-19. “Any relaxation will only portend grave danger for our populace.”

COVID-19 situation in Latin America and Caribbean

8:48pm — Major landmarks in Europe reopened despite mounting coronavirus cases

Major landmarks reopened in various European states as they accelerated their lockdown easing but mounting coronavirus infections in Brazil, India and South Africa showed the worst is still to come in many countries.

Saint Peter's Basilica and the Acropolis Athens are among the landmarks reopened Monday as Europe accelerated its lockdown easing.

The relaxation of curbs in Europe comes as governments walk the tightrope of struggling to repair the vast economic damage unleashed by the pandemic while preventing new infections that would force another round of restrictions.

The World Health Organization has warned that reopening too quickly without a vaccine could trigger a second devastating wave of infections in the pandemic that has already infected 4.7 million people.

Read complete story here.

8:42pm — Geneva, Switzerland — Iran calls for solidarity against pandemic, condemns US sanctions

Iran called for global solidarity against the pandemic, but said that unilateral sanctions are “inhumane” and causing “unnecessary suffering and pain” for its population.

“The US must be held to account for its intensifying unilateral sanctions against Iran and other affected nations,” Saeed Namaki, Iran’s health minister, said in an address to the World Health Organization’s annual assembly being held online.

Alex Azar, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, addressed the two-day forum but did not respond to Iran’s allegations.

8:35pm — Gilgit, Pakistan — GB reports 10 new cases

8:34pm — Quetta, Pakistan — Local transmission cases of COVID-19 cases increasing at an alarming rate

These organisations are providing free telemedicine services in Pakistan

The coronavirus has changed the way we do everyday things from not shaking hands with someone to maintaining a distance of six feet when standing in a crowded place.

With the health sector severely affected due to the pandemic, people are now transitioning to a more modern way of dealing with other minor illnesses, post-COVID-19, such as telemedicine. has compiled a list of organisations, hospitals, and individuals providing free telemedicine services to the masses amid coronavirus.

Read complete story here.

8:25pm — Karachi, Pakistan — Sindh govt, AKU launch tele-ICU service to help doctors treat COVID-19 patients

8:08pm — New Delhi, India — COVID-19 recovery rate reaches to 38.29 percent in India

8:02pm — Karachi, Pakistan — 'Surprised to see people are more worried about new clothes than their lives': Saeed Ghani

Education Minister Sindh Saeed Ghani said he was "surprised to see that people were more worried about new clothes than their lives".

Ghanis said that Sindh was being criticised over closure of shopping malls. "In the future, I fear, that we may be criticised for shortage of  doctors."

7:56pm — Geneva, Switzerland — WHO oversight body backs pandemic review, suggests reforms

The oversight body of the World Health Organisation said that WHO had “demonstrated leadership” in handling the pandemic and that its performance should be reviewed, but “not during the heat of the response” which could prove disruptive, reported Reuters.

The independent panel, in its first report covering the period of January-April, suggested WHO reforms including introducing a “stepped level of alerts” before declaring an international emergency so as to get states’ early attention.

It also suggested that WHO’s 194 member states review the size and surge capacity of WHO’s emergencies programme, saying it annual budget of less than $300 million was “too modest”.

“An imperfect and evolving understanding is not unusual during the early phase of a novel disease emergence. Many uncertainties still remain about COVID-19,” the seven-member panel said. It warned that “rising politicization of pandemic response” is impeding defeat of the virus, adding: “WHO cannot succeed without unified global political support”.

7:50pm — Karachi, Pakistan — Sindh issues new SOPs for burial

7:44pm — Wearing surgical masks can stem COVID-19 spread by 75%: study

7:38pm — Ljubljana, Slovenia — Country to tighten border controls for some visitors amid lockdown easing

Slovenia plans to tighten border controls for some European Union citizens to prevent a possible import of the new coronavirus, the government said, partially rowing back from a decision last week to let all EU nationals in, reported Reuters.

The move reflects public disquiet that visitors from countries badly affected by the virus, such as neighbouring Italy, could inadvertently bring it with them.

7:32pm — Online child sex abuse rises with COVID-19 lockdowns: Europol

Online sex abuse of children in the European Union has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, the head of EU law enforcement agency Europol said, warning that more cases could emerge when schools reopen as teachers’ monitoring resumes reported Reuters.

“What is most worrying is the increased online activity by those seeking child sexual abuse material,” Europol director Catherine De Bolle told a hearing in the EU Parliament.

De Bolle, a former head of the Belgian police, said the rise in paedophile activities was reported by national law enforcement authorities from the 27 EU states who saw higher access to illegal websites and shut more online platforms for the exchange of child sex material.

She said that Europol investigators had also intercepted offenders claiming easier access to children in conversations on the dark web, a part of the internet which is accessible only with specific software or authorisation.

6:58pm — Wellington, New Zealand —'Digital diary' app to help people track movements

New Zealand will launch a contact-tracing app on Wednesday to help people track their movements as the country eases one of the world’s most rigid lockdowns designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 reported Reuters.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the app can be best described as a ‘digital diary’ helping people to record their personal movements, adding the data would not be shared to anyone else besides the user.

“It’s just in case in the future if you find yourself with COVID-19, you’ve got an easy reference to tell where you’ve been over a period of time,” Ardern said during a media briefing in Wellington.

“It’s for you, it’s on your device, and it’s your data and your information.”

6:54pm — Berlin, Germany — Country hopes to end global travel warning in June, but no return to normal

Germany is hoping to replace a travel warning that is in place for all touristic trips abroad until June 15 with softer guidelines, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said, but warned there would be no quick return to holidays as usual, reported Reuters.

“June 15 is not the starting date for taking holidays - June 15 is the date when we need to make a decision on whether we will lift the global travel warning and we’re working on replacing this travel warning with travel guidelines,” Maas said.

He said he wanted summer holidays to be possible but stressed that this needed to be done in a responsible way and added that it was too early to say which countries Germans were most likely to be able to take holidays in.

6:48pm — Harare, Zimbabwe — Zimbabweans go hungry as coronavirus compounds climate woes

Rosemary Pamire struggled to feed her family well before Zimbabwe entered lockdown in March to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Now she can hardly put together a meal a day as the country faces a deepening food crisis.

Sitting on a bed in her two-room lodgings in Harare’s poor Mbare township, Pamire told Reuters she had exhausted the little food she had stocked up during the first 21 days of an extended seven-week lockdown.

“We just eat once a day now. I wish the government could give us food to feed my family,” Pamire said.

The government has promised a food grant of $2.4 billion Zimbabwe dollars ($96 million) targeting 1 million people for six months, without saying where it would get the money.

Pamire said she had registered with social welfare officials but she, like many others, has yet to receive anything.

Read complete story here.

6:42pm — Karachi, Pakistan — Decision to resume train services taken without consulting Sindh

Transport Minister Sindh Awais Shah said the decision taken today to resume train services was without consulting Sindh and demanded that the federal railways minister, Sheikh Rashid, should resign if SOPs were not followed.

“We are not against resumption of train services […] If the intuition is facing a loss will it be compensated with the lives of the people,” Shah said.  

6:36pm — Peshawar, Pakistan — KP reports 16 more deaths, 169 new cases

6:31pm — London, UK — We want to work with teachers to restart schools: PM's spokesman

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government wants to work with teachers and trade unions to help some students return to schools from June 1, the British leader’s spokesman said, trying to ease growing concerns, reported Reuters.

Some teachers have criticised the government for moving too quickly to return some students to schools, part of concerns in Britain that the country is not ready even for the tentative easing of rules to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“We continue to want to work with teachers, head teachers and the unions in order to find a way to have a controlled and careful return of some year groups from June 1 at the earliest,” the spokesman told reporters.

6:26pm — Stockholm, Switzerland — Coronavirus pushes Swedish deaths to highest since 1993 in April

More Swedes died in April than in any one month since 1993, figures from the Statistics Office showed on Monday, as the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pushed the death toll higher.

Sweden, which has stopped short of the strict lockdown measures enforced by many countries, has suffered a higher death rate during the coronavirus pandemic than its Scandinavian neighbours.

In Sweden, the pandemic has caused around 3,700 deaths since the first reported fatality in March, but has not been as deadly as some seasonal flu over the last three decades, when the toll in December 1993 and January 2000 was higher, the Statistics Office said.

The toll for all deaths in December 1993 was 11,057 compared to 10,458 in April this year.

The death tolls in both 1993 and 2000 were high as a result of outbreaks of seasonal influenza, the Statistics Office said.

In total, 97,008 Swedes died in the whole of 1993, the deadliest year since the outbreak of the Spanish flu in 1918.

6:20pm — Karachi, Pakistan — 1,700 business apply to benefit from SBP’s 'rozgar refinance scheme'

6:16pm — UK officials add loss of taste and smell to their list of COVID-19 symptoms

6:07pm — Madrid, Spain — Govt aims to reopen borders to tourism in late June

Tourism-dependent Spain aims to reopen borders to visitors around the end of June as its coronavirus lockdown fully unwinds, a minister said, in a much-needed boost for the ravaged travel sector, Reported Reuters.

“We can’t allow foreigners to travel while the Spanish population is confined,” he told TVE broadcaster.

“From late June, we’ll start the tourism activity, I hope ... We must make Spain an attractive country from the health point of view.”

6:03pm — Karachi, Pakistan — Sindh is the first province to conduct Passive Immunisation through plasma therapy on 11 COVID- 19 patients: Health minister

5:50pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — COIVD-19 made us realise that health sector should be give more importance: info minister

Federal Minister for Information Shibli Faraz said that the pandemic made the government realise that the health sector should be given due importance and that investment in it was crucial.

Faraz, addressing a press conference, said: "Prime Minister Imran Khan emphasised that the health sector needs to be given due importance as a healthy nation leads prospers."

"Coronavirus has not finished and till when will it last no one knows for sure. We appeal to the public that if the shops have reopened and trains services have resumed, they should show responsibility," he added.

5:37pm — Karachi, Sindh — Asymptomatic COVID-19 patients' quarantine period reduced to 10 days

Sindh issued a new health advisory for COVID-19 patients according to who patients who are asymptomatic, their quarantine period will be reduced to 10 days.

Furthermore, before the end of quarantine period, a CPR test twice will not be necessary.

5:27pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — COVID-19 cases to see a surge in the mid of June

Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said the Ministry of Science noted that Pakistan would face a surge in cases by mid of June. 

"The concept of herd immunity can be very dangerous. No such strategy should be adopted at all," Chaudhry said while citing the ministry.

5:23pm — Rome, Italy — 'A beautiful day', as shops and bars finally reopen

Italian shops, hairdressers and restaurants finally threw open their doors on Monday as the country sped up efforts to bounce back from the coronavirus crisis after a 10-week lockdown, reported Reuters.

Customers could once again sip their morning cappuccino at the bar, albeit well spaced from other clients, and public Masses were allowed again in churches after bishops put pressure on the government to sanction religious services.

“I haven’t worked for two and a half months. It’s a beautiful, exciting day,” said Valentino Casanova, a barman in Caffe Canova in Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo.

Almost 32,000 Italians have died of COVID-19 since the outbreak came to light on Feb. 21, the third-highest death toll in the world after the United States and Britain.

Italy was the first European country to impose nationwide restrictions in early March, only permitting an initial relaxation of the rules on May 4, when it allowed factories and parks to reopen.

A woman wearing a face shield drinks coffee at a cafe as Italy eases some of the lockdown measures put in place during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Rome, Italy May 18, 2020. Reuters/Yara Nardi

5:05pm - Geneva, Switzerland — China defends handling of coronavirus, backs review of global response under WHO

China’s president called on Monday for an independent review of the global response to the coronavirus pandemic under the World Health Organisation once the virus is under control, and defended Beijing’s own handling of the pandemic.

In a video message to a virtual meeting of the WHO’s decision-making body, the World Health Assembly, President Xi Jinping also pledged $2 billion over two years to help with the COVID-19 response.

During the two-day meeting, health ministers from around the world are expected to back calls for an independent evaluation of the WHO’s performance, criticism of which has been led by US President Donald Trump.

The meeting could also be dominated by tension between China and the United States, which fiercely criticised Beijing’s response in the early stages of the pandemic.

Calling the pandemic “the most serious global public health emergency since the end of World War Two”, Xi said: “All along we have acted with openness and transparency and responsibility.

“We have turned the tide on the virus,” he said.

5:00pm - Dubai, UAE — Pakistani consulate assures expats that govt making arrangements for their repatriation 

Pakistani Consulate in Dubai has asked the stranded citizens to wait as the government is making arrangements as fast as they can to bring them back to Pakistan.

The consulate stated after Pakistanis stranded in the UAE demanded the Pakistani government to lift the aviation restrictions as they have lifted all restrictions.

4:55pm - Quetta, Pakistan — Home minister orders officials to ensure masks are worn by people 

Balochistan Home Minister Zia Langove ordered officials to ensure that masks are worn by people in the province.

The minister issued the order while chairing a meeting of the law and order situation in the province. The meeting also decided to ban gathering at public places on Eid.

4:50pm - Islamabad, Pakistan — PM Imran launches Emergency Ehsaas Cash Programme

Prime Minister Imran Khan has launched the Emergency Ehsaas Cash Programme to help those unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

4:40pm - Berlin, Germany — Coronavirus pandemic will be overcome quicker if world works together: Merkel

 German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the coronavirus pandemic would be overcome more quickly if the world works together to tackle it, adding that it was necessary to look at whether the World Health Organisation’s processes could be improved.

“The World Health Organisation is the legitimate, global institution where all the threads come together. Because that is the case we have to keep looking at how we can further improve its functioning,” Merkel said in a video message at a WHO meeting, adding that this included ensuring it has sustainable financing.

Stressing that no country could tackle the coronavirus alone, she also said: “I am convinced we will overcome the pandemic. The more we work together internationally, the quicker we will achieve this.”

How risky children are to COVID-19 

Photo: AFP

4:10pm - Islamabad, Pakistan — PM Imran has given approval to resume train service: Sheikh Rashid

Railways Minister Shaikh Rashid Ahmed has announced that Prime Minister Imran Khan has given his go-ahead to resume train service in the country from May 20 onwards.

The minister made the announcement, in a press conference, after meeting Prime Minister Imran Khan.

"If SOPs are violated in any division then I will take action against the divisional head,” said the minister, adding that a rehearsal will be done at all stations.

“If the situation remains fine during May then all trains will be opened from June 1,” said the minister. He added that if SOPs are not violated then everything would remain the same.

The economic impact of coronavirus on different sports 

4:00pm - Islamabad, Pakistan — PM being briefed on SC orders on coronavirus: sources

Government officials are briefing Prime Minister Imran Khan on the orders of the Supreme Court regarding the coronavirus, sources told Geo News.

According to the sources, the meeting has been called to review the written orders issued by the apex court. They added that the officials are also mulling on resuming the train service in the county.

3:55pm - Lahore, Pakistan —  More than 28,000 FIRs registered in province for violation of Section 144: police spokesperson 

The spokesperson for the Punjab Police announced that they have registered 28,475 FIRs for violating Section 144 put in place due to the lockdown in the province.

“During the lockdown 27,860 citizens have been arrested for violating the law,” said the spokesperson of the police. He added that action has also been taken against 5,795 shops and 256 restaurants.

3:50pm - Beijing, China — PIA flight carrying 274 Pakistan students departs from Wuhan: Pakistani embassy in China  

The Pakistani mission in China announced that 274 students residing in the Chinese city of Wuhan and Hubei province have left for Pakistan.

“The students left for Pakistan on a special flight to Pakistan from Wuhan,” said the announcement. According to the embassy, the students were studying at different universities in China’s Hubei province — the epicentre of the coronavirus.

“We have shortlisted Pakistanis that want to return home,” said the embassy. It added that this was the first flight to take back Pakistanis to the country.

3:40pm - Karachi, Pakistan — Court had to intervene due to govt's wrong policies: Mayor Karachi Waseem Akhtar 

Mayor Karachi Waseem Akhtar stated that the court had to intervene in the ongoing coronavirus crisis due to the wrong policies of the government.

“It was the government’s responsibility to ensure that the public follows the SOPs,” said the mayor in a press conference. He added that rush increased in the markets due to the small hours announced for the opening of the markets.

“KMC did not receive any support from the government,” said Akhtar, adding that if people are not allowed to work then the courts have to intervene. 

3:30pm - Peshawar, Pakistan — Senior ANP leader Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour tests positive for virus 

Senior Awami National Party leader Haji Ghulam Haider Bilour has tested positive for the coronavirus, announced the party on Twitter.

The ANP, in the tweet, also asked the people to pray for the speedy recovery of the senior party leader.

3:25pm - Karachi, Pakistan – Sindh Assembly session called for May 20

A session of the Sindh Assembly has called for May 20 which will be attended by 91 parliamentarians, Minister of Excise and Taxation Mukesh Chawla said.

He added special care would be taken to maintain social distancing.

“Temperature of all the MPAs will be taken before entering the hall,” he added.

2:40pm - Lahore, Pakistan — Punjab govt calls meeting to implement SC orders

Punjab government has called a meeting at 4pm today to chalk out its future course of action in view of the Supreme Court orders, sources told Geo News.

The meeting will be attended by provincial ministers and heads of provincial bodies. 

2:25pm - Karachi, Pakistan — PTI leader demands Sindh govt to resume bus service in province

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Khurram Sher Zaman has demanded the Sindh government to resume bus operations in the province.

Zaman also alleged that the attitude adopted by the ruling party in Sindh was not correct. He also demanded the provincial government to open up shopping malls in the province for 24 hours till the last night of Ramadan.

“We do not understand why the petrol pumps have been closed,” said the PTI Karachi president while criticising the PPP-led provincial government.

2:20pm - Jakarta, Indonesia — Indonesia reports 496 new coronavirus infections, 43 deaths

Indonesia reported on Monday 496 new coronavirus infections, taking the total in the Southeast Asian country to 18,010, said health ministry official Achmad Yurianto

Yurianto also announced 43 new COVID-19 related deaths, taking the total to 1,191, while 4,324 people have recovered. More than 143,030 people have been tested, he said.

2:15pm - Lahore, Pakistan — Punjab govt to implement SC orders with SOPs: Chohan 

Punjab Information Minister Fayyaz ul Hasan Chohan has announced his government will implement the orders issued by the Supreme Court with the existing SOPs.

“Shopping malls will be opened on the orders of the Supreme Court,” said Chohan.

Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican reopens

Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican reopened to visitors on Monday after being closed for over two months under Italy´s lockdown orders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

A handful of visitors queued up, observing social distancing rules, and were watched by police officers wearing face masks before having their temperatures taken to enter the church, which has been closed since March 10.

2:00pm - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — Malaysia reports 47 new coronavirus cases, no new deaths

Malaysian health authorities on Monday reported 47 new coronavirus cases, bringing the cumulative total to 6,941 cases.

The health ministry also reported no new deaths, keeping total fatalities at 113.

1:55pm - Karachi, Pakistan — Death toll climbs to 907

The death toll from the novel coronavirus rose to 907 after 3 more deaths were reported in Sindh.

Sindh’s death toll from the virus now stands at 280.

1:55pm - Karachi, Pakistan — Positive cases in Sindh cross 17,000 

Confirmed cases in the country rose to 42,989 after Sindh recorded more cases.

According to Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, 864 cases were recorded in the province in the last 24 hours, taking the provincial tally to 17,241.

He added there were 12,472 patients under treatment in the province at the moment, adding that 4,489 patients had recovered from the virus in the province.

1:50pm - Karachi, Pakistan — Sindh govt to allow reopening of markets: Saeed Ghani 

Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani has said that the provincial government will allow the opening of markets on Sunday and Saturday on the orders of the Supreme Court.

“We must implement the orders of the Supreme Court,” said Ghani.

1:45pm - Brussels, Belgium — Remdesivir close to EU's initial authorisation as COVID-19 treatment

The head of the European Union's medicines agency Guido Rasi said on Monday an initial authorisation for US pharmaceutical company Gilead's remdesivir as a COVID-19 treatment could be granted in coming days.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has already recommended the compassionate use of remdesivir, which allows a drug to be administered to patients even before it has been fully authorised.

"It might be that a conditional market authorisation can be issued in the coming days," Rasi told a hearing in the EU Parliament in Brussels.

Apart from remdesivir, Rasi said other possible treatments against COVID-19 that may be available fast are those based on monoclonal antibodies, which can "neutralise" the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes the illness COVID-19.

Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh says permissible to perform Eid prayers at home 

1:35pm - Islamabad, Pakistan — DC says malls have been opened is federal capital   

Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad Hamza Shafqat has announced that shopping malls in the federal capital have been opened.

“Shops have also been allowed to remain open throughout the week,” said the DC. He added that small and big shops, shopping and barbershops will remain open after Eid as well.

The DC also shared that they will issue the notification for the opening of shops in while.

1:20pm - Dubai, UAE — Yemen could face 'catastrophic' food situation as pandemic worsens: FAO

Yemen, already pushed to the brink of famine by a five-year war, could see a “catastrophic” food security situation due to the coronavirus pandemic and lower remittances from the Gulf, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Monday.

The conflict between a Saudi-led coalition and the Iran-aligned Houthi movement has caused what the United Nations describes as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.

Some 80% of Yemen’s population are reliant on aid and millions face hunger.

“The health system was already under heavy stress and will now be overwhelmed if COVID-19 continues to spread and in addition it will affect the movement of people and the movement of goods,” Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, the FAO’s assistant director-general and regional representative for the Near East and North Africa, told Reuters.

“That situation could be really catastrophic if all the elements of worst case scenarios come to be but let’s hope not and the UN are working on avoiding that.”

Yemen, alongside Syria and Sudan, is one of the most vulnerable states in the Middle East in terms of food security.

Lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus are likely to impact humanitarian supply chains keeping a large part of the population fed, the UN agency said in a report on Monday.

Yemen has been mired in violence since the coalition intervened in 2015 against the Houthi group that ousted the Saudi-backed government in the capital, Sanaa, forcing it to rebase in the south.

1:15pm - Govt shares details of website to ensure transparency in distribution of funds 

1:10pm - Beijing, China — China says premature to immediately begin a COVID-19 investigation

China's foreign ministry said on Monday it was premature to immediately launch an investigation into the origins and spread of the coronavirus that has killed more than 300,000 people globally.

Spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters during a daily briefing that the vast majority of countries in the world believe the pandemic is not yet over.

The ministry said in a separate statement that President Xi Jinping will give a video speech for the opening ceremony of the World Health Assembly later on Monday.

1:05pm - Islamabad, Pakistan — SC orders provinces to seek federal govt's approval for reopening of shopping malls

The Supreme Court has ordered the provinces to seek approval from the federal government to reopen the shopping malls in the country.

The apex court in the written orders also directed officials to allow markets to remain open in the country all week. It also ordered officials not seal markets if they violate the SOPs but ensure that they are implemented.

“Markets will close at 5pm according to the SOPs,” said the order. 

Earlier, during the hearing of the suo motu notice of the coronavirus situation in the country the top court had ordered the reopening of shopping malls across the country.

1:00pm - Moscow, Russia — Russia's new coronavirus cases below 10,000 for third day in a row

Russia on Monday reported 8,926 new cases of the novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours, pushing its nationwide case tally to 290,678.

The daily rise in cases was for the third day in a row below 10,000, a threshold that it has been above for much of May.

Russia’s coronavirus taskforce said 91 people had died overnight, bringing the death toll to 2,722.

12:55pm - Singapore — Singapore's health ministry confirms 305 new coronavirus cases

Singapore’s health ministry confirmed 305 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the smallest increase in over a month, taking its tally of infections to 28,343.

The ministry cautioned that the lower number of cases was partly due to fewer tests being processed as one testing laboratory was reviewing its processes following an earlier apparatus calibration issue.

12:50pm - Sydney, Australia — Australians urged to avoid rush hour virus crush in return to work

Australian officials planned to open pop-up parking lots and extra bicycle lanes in Sydney and other cities as the country’s most populous state began its first full week on Monday of loosened lockdown measures.

New South Wales (NSW) state Premier Gladys Berejiklian urged people to avoid peak-hour trains and buses as they returned to work to ensure that social distancing between commuters is maintained.

Australia’s states and territories are beginning to allow more public activity under a three-step government plan after two months of shutdowns that officials have credited with keeping the country’s exposure to the pandemic relatively low.

NSW, which accounts for around half of Australia’s 7,045 COVID-19 cases, reported just one new infection in the previous 24 hours. The state also reported one additional death, the first nationally in almost a week, taking the nationwide toll to 99.

“We normally encourage people to catch public transport but given the constraints in the peak and the fact we are exercising social distancing, we want people to consider different ways to get to work,” Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

“Places in and around the CBD, but also in employment hubs, will be investigated and more pop-up parking stations will be made available,” she added.

For people still catching trains and buses, the government is ordering “intense and ongoing cleaning” across the public transport network, she said.

12:45pm - Lahore, Pakistan — JPP says 41 prisoners infected with COVID-19 in Pakistan

141 prisoners have tested positive for coronavirus to date in Pakistan, according to the Justice Project Pakistan (JPP).

As per the not-for-profit, which keeps a tally of prisoners infected in the country, majority of the inmates who have contracted the virus are in Lahore, 59, followed by Karachi, 40.

The JPP also warned that after 40 prisoners tested positive for the deadly virus in Karachi, the city’s central jail could soon become the “new flashpoint” for the disease.

“Urgent mitigating steps need to be taken to prevent its further spread in the facility which is already grossly overcrowded,” the organisation tweeted. The Karachi Central Prison houses 3,527 inmates, while it only has the capacity of 2,400.

The number of sickened prisoners are highest in Punjab, 100. Separately, one case has been reported from Quetta in Balochistan.

12:40pm - Karachi, Pakistan — Traders welcome SC decision regarding reopening of businesses 

Chairman of City traders Alliance Hakeem Shah welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the reopening of businesses.

Following the decision, Shah urged the Sindh government to reopen markets for 24 hours. He also assured that SOPs will be followed by the traders.

“Sindh government should announce the reopening of businesses from today,” said Shah. 

Watch: Life returns to Chinese city of Wuhan  

12:20am - Islamabad, Pakistan — CJP orders reopening of shopping malls across country

Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed on Monday stated that they are issuing orders for the reopening of shopping malls across the country.

The CJP issued the orders during the hearing of the suo motu notice regarding the coronavirus taken by the apex court.

The CJP, during today’s hearing, also ordered commissioner Karachi and additional advocate general Sindh to not seal markets even if they violate the SOPs.

“Instead of scaring them make them understand,” remarked the CJP, after the commissioner told the court that some markets were sealed for violating SOPs.

The court also ordered that small markets should be allowed to remain open on Saturdays and Sundays.  

12:10pm - Karachi, Pakistan — Trade leader asks Sindh govt to consider increasing shop timings ahead of Eid

President of All City Traders Alliance Hammad Poonawala has appealed to the government to consider increasing the timings of businesses till Eid.

“Markets instead of opening from 6 am should be allowed to open from 10am till 10pm,” said Poonawala. He also appealed to the government and traders to resolve differences by seeing on the ground facts.

12:00pm - Peshawar, Pakistan — Public transport flout govt set SOPs in KP

Public transport returned to the roads of Peshawar after the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government allowed them to resume their service.

However, the SOPs announced by the government of disinfecting the buses and maintaining social distancing are being violated by the transporters.