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Coranavirus cases in Pak surge to 510

Press Trust of India  |  Islamabad 

The number of cornavirus cases in Pakistan on Saturday surged to 510 as more pilgrims who returned from Iran tested positive for the deadly virus even as the death toll remained three in the country.

Pakistan confirmed the third casualty from the virus in Karachi on Friday, two days after two men both pilgrims returning from Iran and Saudi Arabia died of the coronavirus in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The 70-year-old who died in Karachi was a cancer survivor. He had other medical problems like hypertension and diabetes but did not have any travel or contact history, officials said.

The nationwide tally of COVID-19 patients has rose to 510 with 267 cases in Sindh; 92 in Balochistan; 96 in Punjab; 23 in K-P; 21 in Gilgit-Baltistan; 10 in Islamabad; and one in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

In the worst-affected Sindh province 15 new cases were reported on Saturday, the provincial health minister said. Karachi's Expo Centre has been turned into a field hospital for the patients.

Karachi airport has started screening of passengers on domestic flights. The travellers will have to go through screening procedures before boarding and after disembarking from the flights.

Pakistan, despite its close proximity with China, remained unscathed by the virus until February 26 when a man from Karachi tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Express Tribune reported. The man, in his twenties, had returned from Iran, which is also 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 despite the fact that they were quarantined for 14 days at the Pak-Iran border crossing of Taftan in Balochistan, the Express Tribune reported.

Amid an imminent threat of spread of coronavirus, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has ordered the release of under-trial prisoners detained in Rawalpindi's overcrowded Adiala jail in minor crimes and directed the Islamabad police not to make arrest in petty matters, the Dawn reported.

The Lahore High Court (LHC) has summoned the first meeting of its Crisis Management Committee on March 24.

The government has exempted import of 61 diagnostic support and personal protective equipment from all duties and taxes for a period of three months in order to reduce the rising prices in the domestic market.

The government has also allowed the use of non-utilised amount of the World Bank-funded projects worth USD 40 million for purchase of COVID-19 equipment.

Eleven new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Balochistan, taking the provincial total to 92. The provincial government has decided to impose a 21-day partial lockdown across the province to control the spread of highly contagious disease.

Under the lockdown, which is similar to the restrictions imposed by the Sindh government, all major shopping centres, markets and food restaurants will remain closed. However, food delivery will be allowed during the lockdown.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan while addressing the media in Islamabad on Friday said people should self-quarantine for at least another 45 days to help tackle the coronavirus crisis.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, March 21 2020. 14:38 IST