Pakistani authorities confirmed two more deaths from coronavirus, or COVID-19, raising the total number of casualties in the country to four.
A 77-year old patient, who died in a hospital in the southern port city of Karachi, was already suffering from cancer and diabetes, Azra Fazal Pechuho, health minister of Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital, confirmed in a video message.
— Mohammad Jamlish Roy #StayHome (@jamlishofficial) March 21, 2020
Another old lady with a 20-year-history of diabetes passed away in Dera Ismail Khan district in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, provincial health minister Taimur Khan Jhagra said in a Twitter post.
She had been quarantined in a facility after recently returning from Iran, he added.
Earlier this week, two patients who had returned from abroad died of coronavirus in the same province.
The third one from Karachi had no history of traveling aboard, raising fears that he may have contracted the virus locally.
The number of coronavirus cases in Pakistan rose to 454, with 245 in the southern Sindh province alone, officials and local media reported on Friday.
Health officials said new cases were reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and the northeastern Punjab province.
Most of the new patients had recently returned from neighboring Iran, which has reported the highest number of cases after China and Italy.
On Friday, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah urged people to observe voluntary self-isolation for the next three days.
Sindh under lockdown
Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah announced on Friday a complete lockdown of Sindh for three days. The decision came after contact cases increased in the province.
CM Shah, in this regard, said the rising number of Sindh’s local cases was “extremely concerning”.
“This is why I’m appealing to the people to stay inside their homes. People need not only save themselves but their children as well,” he added.
Inspector-General of Police (IGP) for Sindh Mushtaq Mehar said on Friday that no more than four people should gather in the cars, on the roads or any other location and that legal action would be taken in case of violation.
“The first and foremost action against a pandemic is to limit people’s movement. People should reduce their travelling [inside the city] to as less as possible,” Mehar added.
Unnecessary meetings, gatherings, and social communication should be avoided, the IG noted, adding that police should issue a clear guidance on the limitation on people’s movement.
First death in Pakistan due to coronavirus
Pakistan recorded on Friday, its third due to coronavirus, the first in Sindh.
Sindh Health Minister Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho confirmed the death of a 77-year-old COVID-19 patient in the province, taking the total number of virus deaths in Pakistan to three.
Imran Khan downplayed rumours countryside lock-down
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday addressed a press conference on the coronavirus. He, however, said that his government will not lockdown the country. Prime Minister ruled out a complete lockdown, saying that the federal government will not do the same as the economic impact will be disastrous.
He said that the government had shut down cinemas and barred people from gathering at public places. However, he said that the federal government was not in favour of lockdown as its effects will prove difficult for the poor.
PM Imran said that Italy and other countries that had imposed a lockdown could so as their per capita income was higher than Pakistan’s. He said that it was important to keep the economy afloat and at the same time, keep people safe from the pandemic.
The prime minister said that his government will not ‘censor’ anything from the masses, saying that if authorities were not transparent on cases emerging throughout the country, then it will be difficult to treat them.