Pakistan recorded a sudden spike of 577 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of COVID-19 patients to 4,005 on Tuesday. A senior official warned that the situation can go out of hands.
According to Ministry of National Health Services, Punjab registered the maximum number of 2,004 cases, followed by Sindh 986, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 500, Gilgit-Baltistan 211, Balochistan 202, Islamabad 83 and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) 19. So far 54 people died due to the disease, while 429 have recovered. As many as 39,183 people have been tested so far.
At least 50 prisoners in worst-hit Punjab province have tested coronavirus positive. Inspector General Prisons Shahid Baig told PTI that some 20 cases have been reported in the camp jail Lahore and the remaining in others.
Baig said the outbreak stemmed from a Pakistani citizen who was arrested over narcotics smuggling in Italy and handed over to Pakistan last month. He was diagnosed on March 23.
The increase in the number of new cases came despite hectic efforts by the government to curtail the spread of the deadly infection. The government has extended partial lockdown till April 14 and constantly asking people to stay indoors and follow social distancing.
Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Tuesday directed his commanders to provide full support to the federal and provincial governments in combating the novel coronavirus pandemic
Sindh government spokesman Murtaza Wahab termed the sudden increase in the COVID-19 cases as a big threat and urged people to follow guidelines before it is too late.
"Pakistan got its 1st COVID-19 patient on 26th February. We got our 1000th patient in 29 days. The 2000th patient in 7 days, 3000th patient in 5 days & probably the 4000th patient in 3 days. This is how serious the situation is. Pakistaniyo plz wake up before it is too late," he tweeted. Meanwhile, a 64-year-old doctor died due to coronavirus at a hospital in Sindh where he was admitted after his condition started worsening.
Dr Abdul Qadir Soomro became the first health worker to succumb to the deadly infection in Sindh, fanning concerns among health professionals who have been vigorously demanding steps for the protection of their colleagues.
Addressing a press conference, Planning Minister Asad Umar along with Advisor on Health, Zafar Mirza, said the government has provided 39,500 personal protective kits to the provinces so far, while further medical equipment, including ventilators, will be provided directly to the hospitals from Thursday.
They said Pakistan has a capacity of performing 3,000 coronavirus tests per day in 18 functional laboratories across the country, which would be enhanced to 25,000 per day by the end of this month. Prime Minister Imran Khan has also announced Rs 1,200 billion financial package to help vulnerable people and businesses.
Meanwhile, medical staff across Pakistan have complained for weeks over the severe shortages of safety equipment in hospitals as they treat patients suffering from the coronavirus.
Police on Monday arrested doctors and medical staff in Balochistan for protesting over the lack of protective gears. According to President Young Doctors Association Yasir Khan, more than 150 doctors and paramedics have been arrested.
The doctors and medical staff wanted to protest outside the Chief Minister House when the police baton-charged them. The protest came after more than a dozen doctors contracted the virus reportedly while discharging their duties.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed on Monday criticised the government for lack of efforts to combat the coronavirus, saying "nothing is being done on ground".