Coronavirus updates, May 26: Latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic from Pakistan and around the world

Nationwide positive cases cross 58,000, death toll at 1,202; Global death toll passes 5.5 million

Web Desk

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan rose to 58,278 on Tuesday after new infections were confirmed in the country.

The province-wise break up of the total number of cases as of 2:25pm, May 26, is as follows:

Total confirmed cases: 58,278

• Sindh: 23,507

• Punjab: 20,654

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 8,259

• Balochistan: 3,536

• Islamabad Capital Territory: 1,728

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 638

• AJK: 214

Deaths: 1,202

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 416

• Sindh: 374

• Punjab: 352

• Balochistan: 41

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 8

• Islamabad Capital Territory: 17

• AJK: 2

Officials have recorded more than 5.5 million cases and over 346,000 deaths since the virus emerged in China in December, according to a Reuters tally.

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


Live updates for May 27 to continue here.

11:38pm — Quetta, Pakistan — Balochistan reports 68 new cases

Confirmed cases in the county soared to 58,533 on Tuesday after new cases were detected in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan.

According to Balochistan Health Departement, 68 new cases were reported in the province in the last 24 hours taking the tally to 3,536.

Furthermore, the number of cured patients reached 1,156 after 168 more were recovered from the disease.

10:30pm - Islamabad, Pakistan — 176 Pakistanis stranded in India to return home tomorrow

The Foreign Office in a statement on Tuesday said that another batch of 176 Pakistanis stranded in India due to COVID-19 lockdown will return home via Attari-Wagah border on Wednesday.

“These Pakistanis were stranded in different Indian States including Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and Delhi due to the extended lockdown and closure of the border,” the statement read.

The FO further stated that the High Commission in New Delhi facilitated and coordinated logistics for transfer of these Pakistanis from more than 20 different Indian cities.

"More than 400 stranded Pakistanis have been repatriated from India via Attari-Wagah border since March 20," it added.

09:50pm - Paris — France reports more than 28,500 coronavirus deaths

France's cumulative death toll from coronavirus infection rose by 73 or 0.3% to 28,530 on Tuesday, a similar rate of increase as the day before despite health authorities having resumed taking into account nursing home data after a four-day interruption.

In a statement, the health ministry said the number of fatalities was up 83 in hospitals, to 18,195. But the death toll in nursing homes has been revised to 10,335, 10 fewer than the last time it was published. 

09:10pm - Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan — Three more contract virus

At least three more people have been confirmed to have contracted the virus in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, taking the tally of confirmed cases in the region to 214.

08:53pm - Brasilia, Brazil — WHO says the Americas are new epicenter of coronavirus pandemic

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers the Americas the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, and now is not the time for countries to ease restrictions, officials said in a Tuesday briefing.

Carissa Etienne, WHO director for the Americas and head of the Pan American Health Organization, said via videoconference that outbreaks were accelerating in countries such as Brazil, where the number of deaths reported in the last week was the highest in the world for a 7-day period since the coronavirus pandemic began.

08:36pm - Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan — Eight new cases detected in GB

The number of corona cases in the Gilgit-Baltistan region has reached 638, Adviser to Chief Minister Shams Mir said on Tuesday.

Mir said that eight new cases were confirmed today while 457 patients have recovered from the illness.

07:25pm- Islamabad, Pakistan — ‘Surge in coronavirus cases likely to accentuate’

Due to unsatisfactory following of the guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs) by the people, the surge in COVID-19 cases is likely to accentuate in the country.

The National Command and Operation Centre was informed today about the worsening situation of the pandemic in Pakistan.

The meeting also noted with concern that the SOPs were not followed strictly during the Eid-ul-Fitr holidays.

06:45pm – Peshawar, Pakistan — 179 new cases reported in KP, death toll reaches 416

The number of confirmed CPVID-19 cases in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa reached 8,259 after 179 news cases were deted in the province.

6:00pm - Mumbai, India — India has low coronavirus death rate but worries about migrants on the move

India on Tuesday recorded a total of 145,380 coronavirus infections and a death toll of 4,167, comparatively low figures for the world’s second-most populous country.

But separate states witnessing millions of migrant labourers returning from the big cities were recording rising infections, officials said, fearing that the pandemic could spread through villages where medical care is basic at best.

Health ministry officials said that India’s death rate stood at 0.3 deaths per 100,000 people, compared to what they said was a world average of 4.4.

“We have surprisingly found a low fatality rate in India, which is very good,” said Balram Bhargava, director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research, in New Delhi.

5:45pm - Moscow, Russia — Putin says Victory Day parade postponed over coronavirus will now happen on June 24

Russia will hold its Second World War Victory Day military parade that was postponed over the new coronavirus on June 24, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

Putin was forced to postpone Russia’s May 9 Victory Day celebrations, including a huge military parade across Red Square to mark 75 years since the Soviet victory in World War Two, because of the deepening coronavirus crisis.

Speaking on television on Tuesday, Putin ordered Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu to begin preparations to hold the parade next month.

5:30pm - Karachi, Pakistan — Lockdown not the solution to coronavirus: Sindh governor

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail has once again stated that lockdown is not the solution to the coronavirus situation.

“Lockdown is ending worldwide we cannot live with a lockdown,” the governor told the media. He added that the perception is being given that whoever has coronavirus has been given a death certificate.

“Everyone is realising that lockdown is not the solution to coronavirus,” said the governor. He added that if we can get 1,000 ventilators in 15 days then we can do the lockdown. 

5:15pm - Madrid, Spain — Spain declares 10-day official mourning for coronavirus victims

The Spanish government declared a 10-day official mourning period from Wednesday to honour the nearly 30,000 people who died from the coronavirus pandemic in one of the world’s worst-hit countries, government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero said.

During the mourning period, flags will fly at half-mast all over the country’s public buildings and navy ships, she told a news briefing after a cabinet meeting.

The period will end with an official ceremony led by the head of state in remembrance of the 26,834 fatalities recorded in the country. Spain has reported a total of 235,400 confirmed cases of the disease.

5:00pm - Islamabad, Pakistan — NDMA chairman says country may need 2,000 ventilators by end of June if situation deteriorates  

National Disaster Management Authority Chairman (NDMA) Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal has said that if the coronavirus situation deteriorates in the country by the end of June then the country may need 2,000 ventilators.

“Ventilators in all cities have been used less than 50%,” said the NDMA chairman. He added that the authority’s preparations for the ventilators have been finalised.

“All matters related to ventilators are in control,” said Lt Gen Afzal. He added that there are 128 people on ventilators in the country.

4:45pm - Paris, France — World coronavirus cases top 5.5 million: AFP tally

More than 5.5 million cases of the new coronavirus have been officially declared in the world, more than two-thirds of them in Europe and the United States, according to a tally compiled by AFP from official sources as of 0740 GMT on Tuesday.

At least 5,505,307 infections including 346,188 deaths have been recorded, notably in Europe, the hardest-hit continent with 2,047,401 cases and 172,824 deaths, and the United States with 1,662,768 cases and 98,223 deaths. The number of declared cases in the world has doubled in a month, and more than one million new cases of COVID-19 have been registered in the last 11 days.

4:30pm- Madrid, Spain — Spain wants common EU rules on cross-border movement as pandemic lockdowns ease

Spain on Tuesday urged its European Union partners to set up common rules, including potential health checks for passengers, to open borders and reestablish freedom of travel in the Schengen Area as national coronavirus lockdowns are phased out.

“We have to work with our European partners to define the common rules that will allow us retake freedom of movement on European territory,” Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez said on Cadena Ser radio station.

Even though EU countries have set different dates for reopening borders, there must be common principles and rules throughout the Schengen Area to open internal borders and set up rules for external borders, she said.

In a discussion paper submitted by Spain to a Future of Europe consultation process between EU member states, Madrid also called for the monitoring of tourists’ health via individual checks as part of a common EU-wide procedure.

4:10pm - Bangkok, Thailand — Thailand extends virus emergency powers amid opposition suspicion

Thailand’s cabinet on Tuesday extended an emergency decree to fight the coronavirus to June 30, with a spokeswoman denying opposition suggestions that the prime minister, a onetime junta leader, was seeking a return to unchecked powers.

The state of emergency declared in late March came against the backdrop of student protests against the banning of a party opposed to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

With new cases now dwindling, some opposition figures have suggested the emergency decree should be allowed to expire.

“The prime minister would like to say that since the beginning of the emergency decree’s usage and every extension, we have based this on public health reasons and not political ones,” government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat said after Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.

Thailand was the first country outside to China to report a case of coronavirus, on Jan. 13.

3:40pm - Singapore — Facing biggest downturn, Singapore's virus relief reaches 20% of GDP

Singapore rolled out its fourth multi-billion-dollar stimulus package in as many months on Tuesday, as it forecast a deeper recession than previously expected with the COVID-19 pandemic battering the bellwether economy.

The new S$33 billion ($23.25 billion) package, unveiled by its finance minister in parliament takes the city-state’s support for households and businesses to nearly S$100 billion, or 20% of its GDP.

It came shortly after Singapore lowered its GDP forecast to a contraction range of -7% to -4% from the prior range of -1% to -4%, paving the way for its deepest recession in its 55-year history.

“This is a landmark package and the necessary response to an unprecedented crisis,” Heng Swee Keat said.

Singapore’s economy shrank 0.7% year-on-year in the first quarter and 4.7% quarter-on-quarter, a less severe decline than advance estimates, although officials and analysts warned of more pain ahead.

3:15pm - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — Malaysia reports 187 new coronavirus cases, no new deaths

Malaysia reported 187 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, with illegal migrants held at a detention centre accounting for most of them, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 7,604.

The health ministry said no new deaths were recorded. The total number of coronavirus fatalities in Malaysia currently stands at 115.

Authorities said at the weekend that a new cluster of coronavirus infections had broken out at a detention centre for illegal migrants.

Malaysia will deport all undocumented migrant workers who test negative for the virus back to their home countries, senior security minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob told a press briefing earlier on Tuesday.

2:45pm - Islamabad, Pakistan — Taufeeq Umar tests positive for virus

Cricketer Taufeeq Umar has tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), becoming the most high-profile local athlete to catch the pathogen.

"I got myself tested last night after feeling a little sick, and the result came positive. My symptoms are not at all severe,” the 38-year-old Lahore-based cricketer told a private news channel.

I have isolated myself at home,” he further said, adding: “I appeal to everyone to pray for my swift recovery.”

Umar has played 44 Tests and 22 ODIs for Pakistan.

2:25pm — Karachi, Pakistan — Death toll from virus cross 1,200

The death toll from the novel coronavirus rose to 1,202 on Sunday after Sindh reported new deaths.

Five new deaths were reported in the province in the last 24 hours to take the provincial tally to 374.

2:25pm — Karachi, Pakistan — Sindh reports 573 new cases

Confirmed cases in the county jumped past 58,000 on Tuesday after new cases were detected in Sindh.

According to Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, 573 new cases were reported in the province in the last 24 hours to take the provincial tally to 23,507.

He added there were 14,618 patients under treatment in the province at the moment.

2:15pm - London, UK — UK COVID-19 death toll tops 47,000

The United Kingdom’s COVID-19 death toll surpassed 47,000 on Tuesday, a dire human cost that could define the premiership of Boris Johnson.

The Office for National Statistics said 42,173 people had died in England and Wales with suspected COVID-19 as of May 15, bringing the UK total to 47,343 — which includes earlier data from Scotland, Northern Ireland, plus recent hospital deaths in England.

While different ways of counting make comparisons with other countries difficult, the figure underlined Britain’s status as one of the world’s worst-hit countries in a pandemic that has killed at least 345,400 globally.

Johnson, already under fire for his handling of the pandemic, has had to defend his top adviser Dominic Cummings who drove 250 miles from London to access childcare when Britons were being told to stay at home to fight COVID-19.

1:45pm - Islamabad, Pakistan — PM relief fund crosses Rs4 bln mark, announces PTI's Faisal Javed 

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's Senator Faisal Javed announced that Prime Ministers relief fund for corona has crossed the Rs 4 billion mark. 

"This indeed is a great cause. Together we can and together we must," tweeted the senator, adding that the government will add Rs 4 for every rupee donated in the fund.

1:40pm - Islamabad, Pakistan — India agrees on return of 179 stranded Pakistanis

The Indian government has agreed to open up the Attari border to let 179 stranded Pakistanis return to the country.

The citizens will be return to the country tomorrow evening and the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi has made the arrangements for their return.

1:30pm - Peshawar, Pakistan — Ajmal Wazir urges people to follow social distancing

Adviser to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister on Information Ajmal Wazir has once again urged the people to follow social distancing and safety precautions so that the hospitals are not "overburdened".

The advisor, on a visit to Hayatabad Medical Complex, also urged those who have recovered from the virus to donate their plasmas for the treatment of coronavirus patients. 

1:10pm - Bengaluru, India — Uber cuts 600 jobs in India as lockdown hits business

Uber Technologies Inc will cut around 600 jobs in India as part of its plans to cut 23% of its global workforce, as the company navigates a lockdown that has brought businesses in the country to a grinding halt.

Last week, Uber said it would focus on its core businesses of ride-hailing and food delivery, and cut staffing by more than a third globally in an attempt to become profitable despite the coronavirus pandemic.

“The impact of Covid-19 and the unpredictable nature of the recovery has left Uber IndiaSA with no choice but to reduce the size of its workforce,” Uber India and South Asia President Pradeep Parameswaran said.

The company’s rival in India, SoftBank Group-backed Ola said last week it would cut abut 1,400 jobs as a lockdown brought down revenue by 95% in the last couple of months.

Both Ola and Uber’s business came to a halt in late March as India enforced a countrywide lockdown to contain the spread of the virus. The government has since lifted some restrictions, but companies across the board face challenges as demand for their services have dropped.

Uber did not say how many workers it employs in India, but a source told Reuters that the company employed around 2,400-2,500 employees before Tuesday’s job cuts were announced.

12:25pm - Quetta, Pakistan — DG health Balochistan says people not following safety precautions  

Director General Health Balochistan Dr Saleem Abro stated that the people were not following the safety precautions amid the easing of the lockdown.

The DG stated that the lockdown was eased so that the people could benefit from it, adding that he has warned the provincial government of tough times ahead.

12:00pm - Cairo, Egypt — Saudi Arabia to end curfew on June 21, except in Makkah

Saudi Arabia will begin easing restrictions on movement and travel this week, more than two months after stringent measures were introduced to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Restrictions will be lifted in three phases, culminating in the curfew completely ending - with the exception of the holy city of Makkah — from June 21, the state news agency reported in a statement early on Tuesday.

The Hajj and Umrah pilgrimmages — which attract millions of travelers from around the world — will remain suspended until further notice.

The kingdom has so far recorded 74,795 cases of COVID-19 with 399 deaths. More than 2,000 cases are still being reported daily.

The first phase, starting on Thursday, will see the 24-hour curfew reduced to between 3pm-6am countrywide.

Free movement between regions and some retail and wholesale activities, including malls, will be allowed to resume.

Saudi Arabia had imposed 24-hour curfews on most towns and cities but eased them for the start of the fasting month of Ramadan. The 24-hour curfew was reimposed during the five-day Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday, which began on Sunday.

From Sunday May 30, free movement will be allowed between 6 am and 8 pm, Saudi Press Agency reported. Domestic flights will be allowed to resume, but a ban on international flights will stay.

Mosques can hold prayers once again, subject to social distancing and hygiene measures, except for in Mecca where restrictions on attendance will stay in place.

Public and private sector employees will be allowed to return to their offices.

Social gatherings of more than 50 people will still be banned, including weddings and funerals.

Citizens will still be urged to wear masks in public and continue hygiene and social distancing measures after June 21.

11:45am - Lahore, Pakistan — Shehbaz alleges that death rate could have been lower if a policy was in place 

Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif stated that had there been a policy in place before the opening of the lockdown then the deaths due to the coronavirus may be lower.

A statement shared by Shehbaz’s party urged the government to not waste any time and develop a national strategy.

“testing data should be shared with the nation and strategy to stop the spread should be shared,” Shehbaz was quoted. He added that time is running out and all the related concerns should be addressed.

The PML-N president also urged the people to follow the safety procedures or the situation could get out of hands. 

11:15am - Berlin, Germany — German export hopes recover somewhat in May after 'catastrophic' April

The mood among German exporters recovered somewhat in May after a “catastrophic” April, the first full month of coronavirus lockdown measures in Europe’s largest economy, the Ifo institute said on Tuesday.

“Virtually every sector still expects further declines, yet these will be less sharp than had been expected in the previous month,” the Munich think tank said in a monthly release.

The Ifo export indicator, based on a survey of around 2,300 manufacturing businesses, rose in May to -26.9 from -50.2. It is a net reading for respondents expecting an increase minus those who see a decline.

10:12am — Islamabad, Pakistan — 1,356 new cases reported over 24 hours across the country

Over the past 24 hours, 1,356 new cases were reported across the country, taking the toll of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 57,705. According to the NCOC, there are currently 38,194 active cases in the country. 

Thirty people were reported dead across the country by the NCOC over the past 24 hours, taking the death toll to 1,197. 

9:50am — Karachi, Pakistan — Sindh govt rubbishes rumours of imposing curfew

Sindh government has not taken any decision to impose a curfew across the province, said Syed Murtaza Wahab on Monday.

The advisor to the chief minister and Sindh government spokesperson rubbished rumours on social media that the provincial government had decided to impose a curfew in a bid to contain the coronavirus from spreading faster in the province.

"News on social media about [imposition of] curfew are wrong," he said. "People should not lend an ear to misleading news," he added.

He advised people to play their part in stemming the spread of the coronavirus and appealed to masses to support the government in its efforts to save citizens' lives.

9:15am — Geneva Switzerland — WHO suspends hydroxychloroquine trial for COVID-19 treatment

The World Health Organization announced Monday it was suspending the clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for the COVID-19 after a study published in a medical journal last week claimed that the drug can increase the risk of death among coronavirus patients. 

A study published in The Lancet medical journal last week suggested the drug could increase the risk of death among COVID-19 patients, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference.