Coronavirus kills 42 in Pakistan with over 2,800 new cases

Asad Umar says opposition endangering human lives by insisting on holding Peshawar rally

By: News Desk      Published: 10:47 AM, 21 Nov, 2020
Coronavirus kills 42 in Pakistan with over 2,800 new cases
Police guard a street in Lahore after it was locked down over coronavirus fears.–AFP

The coronavirus claimed 42 more lives during the past 24 hours, raising the death toll in Pakistan to 7,603, showed the figures released by National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Saturday morning.

Most of these deaths were recorded in Sindh where 19 people died of the virus followed by 15 in Punjab and four each in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad.

Similarly, the number of new cases detected on Friday stood at 2,843 which increased the total number of infections reported in the country to 371,508.

With the addition of these figures, the region-wise distribution of the coronavirus cases currently stands at: Sindh 161,028, Punjab 113,457, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 43,730, Islamabad 26,177, Balochistan 16,699, Azad Kashmir 5,911 and Gilgit-Baltistan 4,505. 

Just like the recent days, Sindh is reporting most of the new cases followed by Punjab, Islamabad and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. 

Meanwhile, the increase in active cases continues in the country amid a higher infection rate against a lower recovery ratio, which is overburdening the country’s fragile healthcare infrastructure.

There are 34,974 coronavirus patients currently in the country, out of which 1,613 are in a critical condition. Of those receiving treatment in intensive care units of different hospitals, 246 have been placed on ventilators.

As far as the recovery rate is concerned, a total of 328,931 people have so far fully recovered from the infection. Hence, 336,534 cases stand closed [deaths + number of people recovering] in the country. 

On the other hand, Friday also saw health authorities administering 42,752 tests in different parts of the country to identify, isolate and trace the infected persons. Hence, the total number of tests conducted since the coronavirus pandemic outbreak in the country has reached 5,141,403.

On the other hand, Federal Minister Asad Umar – who also looks after the affairs of NCOC – in a series of tweets claimed that the opposition won’t get anything except endangering the lives of citizens by holding the planned rally in Peshawar.

Peshawar was Prime Minister Imran Khan’s city and the PTI would sweep all the seats in the next general elections just like the previous ones, he added.

According to Asad, the PML-N government had imposed two-week-long complete lockdown in Azad Kashmir while the PPP opted for a smart lockdown in four districts in Karachi, but both parties were still adamant to organise the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) rally in Peshawar.

The federal minister also cited the high positivity rate and the increase in number of patients admitted in intensive care units to prove his point. “PDM response: we will be safe on the stage so who cares what happens to citizens.”

Toronto ordered into lockdown

Canada's largest city Toronto and much of its suburbs will be placed under lockdown beginning Monday due to the spread of Covid-19, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced.

"I've been clear on this: the situation is extremely serious and further action is required," Ford told journalists on Friday. "Effective Monday, November 23 at 12:01 am, Toronto and Peel will be moved into lockdown."

The lockdown, whose restrictions include a ban on indoor private gatherings, will last at least 28 days and violators can be fined CAN$750 ($570).

Outside gatherings will be limited to 10 people, as will religious services, funerals and weddings.

Hair salons and other personal care locations as well as gyms and casinos will be closed.

Schools will remain open, but restaurants and non-essential stores will only be open for pickup and delivery.

"We can't risk overwhelming our hospitals," said Ford, with Canada's most populous province having just passed 100,000 coronavirus infections.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had earlier warned Canadians of "a long winter ahead" and the risk of overwhelming hospitals as infections spike.

"If you are planning to see friends this weekend, maybe don't," Trudeau said.

"There was a birthday party or a gathering for dinner you were thinking about doing -- don't do it."

Trudeau said Canadians would have to take precautions "as the weather drives us indoors."

"It'll be tough. But we know what we have to do," he said.

The country had a total of 317,000 cases and 11,273 deaths on Friday. 

Canada has averaged nearly 4,800 daily cases and 65 deaths over the past seven days, a sharp increase in numbers.

Without concerted steps to stem the virus, Trudeau warned, new daily cases are projected to jump as high as 60,000 by the end of December.

Latest global developments

Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:

- Approvals on horizon -

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says vaccines being tested by Pfizer-BioNTech and by Moderna could be approved and granted "conditional authorisation" before the end of December.

And the British government says it has asked its independent medicines regulator to study Pfizer/BioNTech's vaccine with a view to an imminent roll-out.

- Vaccine goals -

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says Spain will have vaccinated "a very substantial part" of its population of 47 million people by mid-2021. 

- More than 1.36 million dead -

The virus has killed at least 1,360,914 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP on Friday. 

There were 11,100 new deaths and 661,056 new cases recorded worldwide in the previous 24 hours.

The second worst-affected country is Brazil with 168,061 deaths followed by India with 131,578 and Mexico with 100,104, making it the fourth country to pass the 100,000 milestone. The United Kingdom has 53,775 dead.

- Confession frees Aussies -

South Australia ends its lockdown after a pizza chef lied to tracers about how he contracted the virus. He said he was a customer at a pizzeria -- leading authorities to believe the strain was virulent enough to be transmitted via a takeaway box -- when in fact he worked there.

- India cases top 9 million -

India's cases pass nine million, the world's second-highest tally after the US, with many experts suspecting the number is an under-estimate due to low levels of testing.

At least 585 new deaths were recorded there in the last 24 hours.

- Airlines need up to $80 billion -

Airlines need from $70-$80 billion in additional aid, the head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Alexandre de Juniac, tells French daily La Tribune. "Otherwise they won't survive."

- Six-month immunity -

Individuals infected with coronavirus are unlikely to catch the illness again for at least six months, researchers at the University of Oxford say, adding they have not yet gathered enough data to make a judgement on reinfection after that period.

- Mass testing in Austria -

The Austrian government says it has ordered seven million antigen tests as part of a mass coronavirus testing drive, with teachers and police officers first in line to receive them.

- Record toll for Turkey -

Turkey reports its highest single daily toll since its first recorded death in March, reaching the milestone on the eve of its first weekend curfew since the pandemic's first wave.

- Orthodox Patriarch dies -

Ninety-year-old Patriarch Irinej, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, dies of Covid-19 three weeks after his unofficial second-in-command succumbed to the virus.

With inputs from AFP.