Over 2,500 new coronavirus cases, 71 deaths recorded in Pakistan

By: News Desk      Published: 10:40 AM, 17 Dec, 2020
Over 2,500 new coronavirus cases, 71 deaths recorded in Pakistan
A worker sprays disinfectant on auto-rickshaws along a street as a preventive measure against the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Karachi.–AFP

The death toll in Pakistan reached 9,080 after another 71 persons died of the coronavirus infection during the past 24 hours (Wednesday), showed the latest figures posted by National Command and Operation Centre on Thursday morning.

It was a marked decrease in the number of deaths when compared with the previous day which witnessed 105 patients dying.

Punjab reported 39 new deaths followed by 15 in Sindh, 13 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, three in Islamabad and one in Azad Kashmir.

Meanwhile, it is Punjab where the pandemic has so far proved to be deadliest with the virus, claiming a total of 3,491 lives in the province. Details for other regions given as: Sindh 3,237, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 1,502, Islamabad 382, Azad Kashmir 194, Balochistan 176 and Gilgit-Baltistan 99.

On the other hand, Pakistan also recorded 2,545 new coronavirus cases as the overall positivity rate in the country stood at 6.3 percent. However, it was 16.59 percent for Karachi, 13.34 for Peshawar and 9.34 for Mirpur (Azad Kashmir).

With the detection of these cases, the total number of infections reported in the country since the coronavirus pandemic outbreak has increased to 448,522. The region-wise distribution of these cases now stands at:

Sindh 199,706, Punjab 129,291, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 53,609, Islamabad 35,441, Balochistan 17,838, Azad Kashmir 7,833 and Gilgit-Baltistan 4,804.

As of Thursday morning, 396,591 infected persons have fully recovered from the infection with the addition of 7,993 during the past 24 hours, representing a huge reduction in active cases. The number of active cases is now 42,851 against the previous level of 48,369.

Out of these active cases, 2,505 are in a critical condition and being treated in intensive care units of different hospitals with 309 placed on ventilators.

Also on Wednesday, a total of 40,090 tests were administered across the country after which the overall number increased to 6,176,889.

Sweden struggles

Despite a sharper tone from authorities and new restrictions, Sweden, which has famously relied on non-coercive measures, is struggling to contain a strong second wave of Covid-19 it thought it could avoid.

The capital Stockholm is once again at the epicentre of the epidemic and this week called on members of the public with medical training to help offset some of the burden on healthcare. 

Lars Falk, a doctor at an intensive care unit at the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, told AFP the second wave had hit much harder than they expected.

"We got three different scenarios from the Public Health Agency this summer. We prepared for the worst, and it turned out twice as bad," Falk told AFP.

While the Swedish capital is the worst-hit region in the country, many others are also seeing resources stretched thin.

On Monday, the number of people receiving hospital care reached 2,406, near the peak of 2,412 on April 20.

For now, the number of people in intensive care is still only at half the level seen in April, according to Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare.

The total number of deaths associated with Covid-19 in the country of some 10.3 million reached 7,802 on Wednesday, with more than 500 in the last week and over 1,800 since the beginning of November.

- Failure to protect elderly -

An independent commission appointed by the government did however conclude that the strategy failed in its effort to protect the elderly in care homes, a lapse already conceded by authorities.

Over 90 percent of coronavirus deaths in Sweden have been among those aged 70 and up, and nearly half of all deaths have been in retirement homes.

In part the response has also been constrained by legislation, including a guarantee on freedom of movement enshrined in the constitution.

The government is preparing a temporary, one-year "pandemic law" it aims to have in place by March 2021, which will empower ministers to limit the number of people in public places and regulate businesses and services by restricting opening hours or even shutting them down.

Sweden, like the rest of the EU, also hopes to start vaccinations at the end of December. With 600,000 people lined up as priority candidates for January, the government expects to be able to offer vaccination to the entire population around the middle of next year.

Global developments

Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:

- All together now -

The European Union's 27 member countries want to start vaccinations on "the same day" as pressure mounts on the bloc to catch up with the United States and Britain. 

- UK vaccinates 137,000 -

More than 137,000 people in Britain have received a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine in the week since inoculations began, the government announces.

- Record Germany toll -

Germany registers a record number of deaths on the first day of a new partial lockdown.

- Masked Christmas -

The World Health Organization in Europe urges families to wear face masks during forthcoming Christmas family gatherings, warning of a "further resurgence" of Covid-19 in early 2021.

- London pubs close - 

London closes theatres, pubs and restaurants and bans people from socialising with anyone not from their household or support bubble, except outside in groups of no more than six.

- Denmark shuts shops -

Denmark closes malls and shops from Friday December 25 at the latest to January 3. Food shops and pharmacies will be exempt.

- UK Christmas on -

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson resists calls to tighten coronavirus restrictions over Christmas. 

- 1.6 million dead -

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 1,636,687 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP on Wednesday.

The US is the worst-affected country with 303,867 deaths, followed by Brazil with 182,799, India with 144,096, Mexico with 115,099 and Italy with 65,857.

- Latin American economy -

The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean slashes its projection for the region's economic growth fall for 2020 from 9.1 to 7.7 percent.

- Pompeo in quarantine -

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tests negative, but goes into quarantine after being exposed to a person who has tested positive for Covid-19.

- Tobacco-based vaccine -

British cigarette maker BAT says its US biotech division Kentucky BioProcessing will launch trials of a potential coronavirus vaccine, developed using tobacco plant technology.

- UA tracing scheme -

United Airlines announces a voluntary programme to collect customer contact data on all flights to assist health officials in contact tracing in the effort to contain Covid-19.

- Rugby champions game cancelled - 

Titleholders Exeter's European Champions Cup clash with Toulouse on Sunday is cancelled after several players and staff tested positive for coronavirus.

With inputs from AFP.