The novel coronavirus – which wrecked the central China city of Wuhan towards the end of last December – has now spread to all continents excluding Antarctica. The COVID-19 respiratory illness caused by the mysterious pathogen has so far killed thousands of people and infected close to half a million others across the globe.
Though the deadly infestation has been contained by the Chinese government in Wuhan, the virus has now spread elsewhere, especially in Europe and the United States, with the World Health Organisation declaring Europe as the new epicentre of the viral disease.
Pakistan, despite its close proximity with China, remained unscathed until February 26 when a young man from Karachi tested positive for the novel coronavirus. He had returned from Iran – one of the worst-hit countries.
After a brief pause following the first case, COVID-19 cases witnessed a sharp surge as more pilgrims returning from Iran tested positive.
The nationwide tally of COVID-19 patients has crossed 1,100 with 417 cases in Sindh; 131 in Balochistan; 323 in Punjab; 121 in K-P; 84 in Gilgit-Baltistan; 25 in Islamabad; and one in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
Follow The Express Tribune’s live coverage of the pandemic here.
1:05 pm: CM urges people to clap, flash mobile lights at 9pm
Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal said everyone should show appreciation for doctors – who are standing at the frontline of the pandemic – by clapping and flashing mobile lights while standing on our balconies or near windows at 9pm.
Many contries are doing it..
If we all tonight at 9 clock from our balconies, roofs and windows come out…clap and open our mobile flash to appreciate and motivate our health doctors and those who are at front foot with this Pandemic #coronavirus
— Jam Kamal Khan (@jam_kamal) March 26, 2020
1:00 pm: World Bank financing purchase of ventilators, masks in K-P
The K-P health ministry and the World Bank are working together to combat the pandemic, said provincial Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra.
He said the World Bank is financing the purchase of 120 ventilators and 210,000 masks for the province.
KP Health & World Bank are working together to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The MDTF supported ERKF project is financing the purchase of 120 ventilators & 210,000 masks for use in the province. More support from WB and others will follow.
We’re in this together!
— Taimur Khan Jhagra (@Jhagra) March 26, 2020
12:41 pm: Bilawal Bhutto says govt must renegotiate deal with IMF
Pakistan Peoples Party Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto said the federal government must renegotiate its deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
He said given the situation and the impact of the coronavirus on the global economy, the government must negotiate new terms.
It has been Pakistan Peoples Party’s position for some time that federal government must renegotiate its ruinous deal with the IMF. Given we are facing global pandemic government must renegotiate new terms with IMF that takes into account impact of #COVID on global economy.
— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) March 26, 2020
12:20 pm: PM visits isolation centre in Islamabad
Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived at the isolation centre in Islamabad and was given a tour of the facilities by NDMA Chairman Lieutenant Muhammad Afzal.
Health Minister Zafar Mirza accompanied the premier.
11:32 am: Vehicles barred from entering Islamabad
Islamabad Police has barred vehicles from entering the federal capital.
Cars were stopped at the Faizabad interchange and only people who have urgent work in the city were allowed to enter.
11:20 am: 12 new cases reported in Balochistan
Provincial authorities in Balochistan reported 12 new cases, raising the tally to 127.
At least 2,033 people have been screened while 277 were shifted to the Taftan quarantine centre and 111 in the RDA quarantine centre.
Blood samples for 1,455 people were also taken.
11:00 am: PIA offers exclusive premium flights
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) announced that it will be operating exclusive premium flights for those passengers who need to return home immediately.
The flights will be operated only one way from Pakistan.
In an extraordinary humanitarian gesture, PIA will be operating exclusive premium flights for those passengers who urgently need to return home. Due to travel restrictions these will be operated only one way from Pakistan. For bookings visit https://t.co/zzPi4NyCFA #PIA #PIACares pic.twitter.com/fA5XXMom53
— PIA (@Official_PIA) March 26, 2020
10:45 am: Govt approves Islamabad to Gilgit and Skardu flight operations
The federal government has approved domestic flight operations to and from Islamabad International Airport for Gilgit and Skardu.
The decision is effective from March 26 till April 2.
Other domestic flight operations will remain suspended.
10:26 am: Four new coronavirus cases in K-P
The health department confirmed four new coronavirus cases in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, raising the provincial tally to 115.
10:20 am: PM Imran to chair National Coordination Committee (NCC) meeting
PM Imran will chair the second meeting of the National Coordination Committee on coronavirus today.
Health Minister Zafar Mirza said the meeting will review implementations of the decisions made in the first meeting.
10:00 am: First coronavirus case confirmed in Attock
The first case of the novel coronavirus has been confirmed in the Attock district. A female patient from the Gharibwal village in Pindigheb tehsil of Attock tested positive for the virus.
The woman returned from Saudi Arabia on March 15 and was admitted to the Tehsil Headquarters Hospital (THQ), alongside her husband who was also displaying symptoms of the virus.
The woman tested positive for the virus, while her husband tested negative.
Pindigheb Deputy District Health Officer Manzoor Hussain says 17 others returned from Saudi Arabia and were not kept in quarantine. As a precautionary measure, the Gharibwal village has been cordoned off.
9:49 am: PM Imran to visit isolation centre in Islamabad
Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit a coronavirus isolation centre in Islamabad today.
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lieutenant Muhammad Afzal will brief the prime minister, on the occasion.
9:30 am: First coronavirus case in Abbottabad
This is the first positive case of the novel coronavirus in Abbottabad. The 29-year-old man returned from the United States on March 20 and tested positive for the virus.
After arriving in Pakistan, he stayed in Swat for four days. He returned to Abbottabad and visited a bakery in the area that has been sealed by the police.
7:00 am: Shop distributes free food to the needy
A video circulating on social media shows a traffic police officer in Karachi inviting people to a shop to collect free food packages.
The traffic warden is seen announcing on a megaphone for those in need to come to the shop, “have free food and make a prayer”.
What a heartwarming sight in #Karachi…. 💕 #Corona
This shop is distributing free food to the needy. Policeman using his loud speaker to the make announcements.
Via Massam Ali. #BeautifulPakistan #CoronavirusPandemic #CoronaAlert #COVID2019 pic.twitter.com/9Xs7eY7HMf
— Danyal Gilani (@DanyalGilani) March 25, 2020
6:00 am: Second confirmed case of coronavirus in Hyderabad
A second case of coronavirus emerged in Hyderabad. The patient recently returned from the United Kingdom and was tested on March 24. He tested positive for the coronavirus.