BY OUR BUREAU CHIEF
Islamabad: The novel coronavirus emerged in the central China city of Wuhan towards the end of last year and proliferated to almost the whole world within a couple of months. It’s not the virulence or fatality, but the infectivity of the new virus – also known as SARS-CoV-2 – that has set off a global frenzy.
The Covid-19 respiratory illness caused by this mysterious contagion has so far infected more than 5.3 million people in 202 countries and territories of the world – and over 335,000 of them have died and counting.
Pakistan, despite its close proximity with China, remained coronavirus-free until February 26 when a young man from Karachi tested positive after returning from Iran – one of the worst-hit countries. After a brief hiatus following the first case, Covid-19 cases spiked as more pilgrims returning from Iran tested positive for the virus.
Nearly one and a half months after imposing the lockdown across the country, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced to ease the lockdown in phases.
The nationwide tally of Covid-19 patients stands at 56,967 with 20,077 cases in Punjab, 22,934 in Sindh, 8,080 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 3,407 in Balochistan, 619 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 1,641 in Islamabad and 221 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The virus has claimed at least 1,179 lives while at least 17,482 coronavirus patients have recovered.
The situation remains fluid and we’re updating stats as soon as new figures are officially released.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza has feared that cases and deaths due to Covid-19 could increase in the coming days, saying the government will evaluate the prevailing situation immediately after Eid and can review its decision of relaxation in lockdown if the situation gets worse, Radio Pakistan reported.
In a media briefing on Monday, he said that the lockdown was relaxed in the country in view of the Eid festival but it seems people are under the wrong impression that prevalence of the disease is reducing.
According to the de facto health minister, it is being observed that movement and interaction of people have increased during Eid holidays and SOPs are not being properly followed, which could lead to disastrous situation. “Social distancing and other precautionary measures are key to stop the spread of this killer disease.”.