Punjab has reported its first death from the Covid-19 disease, which is caused by the novel coronavirus.
According to the provincial Health Minister Yasmin Rashid, the patient was a 57-year-old admitted to Mayo Hospital.
The number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the country rose to 892 after the Punjab and Sindh provinces reported new cases yesterday.
According to Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, there are 176 confirmed cases of the virus in Dera Ghazi Khan, 51 in Lahore, five in Gujrat, six in Gujranwala, three in Jhelum, two each in Rawalpindi and Multan, and one case each in Faisalabad, Mandi Bahauddin, Rahim Yar Khan, and Sargodha.
He urged citizens to stay indoors and help in containing the virus as the province begins a 14-day lockdown.
Sindh remains the worst-affected province in the country so far, with a total of 399 coronavirus cases.
In Karachi alone, the numbers of cases of the virus are 130, with the majority said to be cases of “local transmission”.
According to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department, the number of cases in the province stands at 38 after four new patients were reported earlier this week, while the number of reported cases in Gilgit-Baltistan is 80.
Baluchistan has reported 108 cases, while one case has been reported from Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
In Islamabad, 15 patients have been confirmed to have contracted the disease.
The country has also reported six deaths from the virus, with Baluchistan reporting its first death on Sunday.
Baluchistan government spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani confirmed the province’s first death from the virus in a tweet.
The deceased was a 65-year-old man, under treatment at the Fatima Jinnah Chest Hospital, according to Shahwani.
The Baluchistan government announced strict preventative measures yesterday.
According to a notification issued by the Home and Tribal Affairs Department, the authorities invoked Section 144 of the Pakistan Penal Code throughout the province.
The following instructions were issued to the public, and in aid of law enforcement agencies as they begin to implement the orders in different parts of Baluchistan.
The measures include a complete ban on all movement by people, by any means, within the city, both inter-district and inter-province; a complete ban on gatherings of all kinds – social, religious, or any other purpose – at any place, public or private; a closure of all offices both public and private, and services, although some essential services are exempt, including personnel related to health services and law enforcement, persons in need of medical care with one attendant where necessary, and persons going to buy grocery and medicines within the vicinity of their residence.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government has announced a public holiday this week, starting yesterday to March 28.
The suspension of intra-district public transport for a week was also announced.
The KP government, which has already suspended inter-district transport across the province for seven days, banned the intra-district transport for the period.
It also extended the closure of markets, shopping malls and restaurants in the province until March 29, and asked restaurants to suspend home delivery service, which was previously allowed.
In a video statement, adviser to the chief minister on information Ajmal Wazir said that pharmacies, grocery stores, karyna shops, bakeries, atta chakki, tandoor, milk shops, auto workshops, filling stations, chicken and meat shops, vegetable shops, and grain, fruit and vegetable markets (mandis) would remain open.
He said member of the public should limit their movement, while all public places, including markets, would be disinfected.
He also said factories would be closed until further orders.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has meanwhile urged the federal government to stop the collection of debt servicing from the provincial government’s resources until the coronavirus pandemic was dealt with.
On the chief minister’s instructions, the Sindh finance department has written a letter to the federal finance secretary to halt the debt servicing deductions in view of the shortfall in the current crisis.
The Centre collects around Rs3bn as debt servicing charges from the Sindh government every month.
However, the Sindh government said that there is a serious anticipated shortfall in revenues in the near future.
As a result, it asked that the collections be made when matters return to normal.
The same day, Chief Minister Shah directed the finance department to begin disbursing pensions to retired government employees from today.
Pointing out that the elderly are more vulnerable to the coronavirus, he said that they should not be made to gather at banks.
Shah further made the decision to take necessary measures to control the expenditures of the Sindh government.
As a result, he decided that apart from regular salaries and pensions, all payments such as commutation, gratuities and encashment of leave preparatory to retirement (LPR) would stand withheld.
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