Pakistan sees deadliest day in second coronavirus wave

59 die while 2,665 new infections reported: 36,683 active cases recorded: US surpasses 12 million Covid-19 cases

By: News Desk      Published: 11:05 AM, 22 Nov, 2020
Pakistan sees deadliest day in second coronavirus wave

Pakistan recorded the deadliest day during the second wave of the novel coronavirus while the United States surpassed 12 million Covid-19 cases.

In Pakistan, authorities reported 59 deaths and 2,665 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours (Saturday) taking the national tally of confirmed cases to 374,173.

According to the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) data released on Sunday morning, the country recorded 59 deaths in a single day taking the fatality toll to 7,662.

Active cases now stand at 36,683 whereas 329,828 patients stand recovered from the disease.

Sindh has so far reported 162,221 cases, Punjab 114,010, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 44,097, Balochistan 16,744, Islamabad 26,569, Azad Jammu and Kashmir 6,000 and Gilgit Baltistan 4,526.

The death toll has climbed up to 7,662 with the addition of 59 deaths. Punjab’s number of fatalities stand at 2,848, Sindh 2816, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 1,325, Islamabad 278, Balochistan 161, Azad Jammu and Kashmir 140 and Gilgit Baltistan 94.

Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar on Sunday warned political leaders that corona is not a threat rather it is threatening lives.

In a tweet, he gave number from around the country about the increase in number of Covid patients on ventilators. He said: “Increase in covid patients on ventilators in last 15 days: Peshawar 200%, Multan 200%, Karachi 148%, Lahore 114%, Islamabad 65%. Multan and Isb Covid ventilators capacity utilization 70%. For political leaders to send a message that corona is not a threat is threatening lives.”

US surpasses 12 million cases

On the global front, the United States surpassed 12 million Covid-19 cases Saturday, according to the Johns Hopkins University real-time tracker.

The world's largest economy currently has 12,019,960 cases and 255,414 deaths, both by far the worst global tolls. The new toll comes just six days after the US crossed the 11-million case threshold.

Cases have been surging in the US at an alarming rate, forcing many cities to re-impose punishing lockdown measures.

Health authorities have urged people to stay home for next week's Thanksgiving holiday, when Americans usually travel from coast to coast to be with their families.

New York City has shut down schools for its 1.1 million students, while California began imposing a 10:00 pm to 5:00 am curfew from Saturday. 

Chicago -- the US' third-largest city -- has been under stay-at-home orders since Monday.

On Friday, President Donald Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, announced he had tested positive for Covid-19 and is quarantining.

His positive test follows infections for a string of others connected to the White House, including his father, who was hospitalized, the president's wife Melania and Trump's youngest son Barron.

President Trump's administration has been heavily criticized for its response to the pandemic and for downplaying the dangers.

On Monday, President-elect Joe Biden expressed frustration over Trump's refusal to cooperate on the White House transition process, saying "more people may die" of coronavirus without immediate coordination on fighting the pandemic.

There is, however, a new sign of hope: US biotech giant Pfizer and German partner BioNTech announced Friday they will seek approval to roll out their coronavirus vaccine early.

UK virus lockdown

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will confirm that coronavirus lockdown restrictions across England are to end on December 2, his office said Saturday.

The lockdown will be followed by a return to a three-tiered set of regional restrictions as part of the government's "COVID Winter Plan", it added in a statement.

The official announcement is expected to be made on Monday.

The statement quoted a spokesperson for 10 Downing Street as saying that current England-wide restrictions have "helped bring the virus back under control" and "eased pressures on the NHS (National Health Service)".

However, the government has also cautioned that without regional restrictions the virus would wreak havoc before plans for vaccine distribution and mass testing have had time to take effect.

"That would put in jeopardy the progress the country has made, and once again risk intolerable pressure on the NHS," the spokesperson explained.

A four-week national shutdown was imposed in England early this month, forcing people to stay home and businesses to close owing to a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was originally slated to run until December 2.

More areas are expected to face higher levels of restrictions at that point than they did prior to the lockdown however, the statement said.

Britain has suffered more than any other country in Europe from the coronavirus, with more than 54,000 deaths from 1.4 million cases.

Johnson's government has responsibility for health policy in England but devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland coordinate their own responses to the pandemic.

On Friday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock declined to say whether restrictions would be further relaxed to allow families to gather over Christmas.

"I'm afraid we still haven't made those decisions," he said.

The government has asked its independent medicines regulator to study a coronavirus vaccine by US pharmaceutical group Pfizer and German partner BioNTech and determine if it is safe for distribution.

Pfizer and BioNTech asked US regulators Friday for emergency use authorisation for the vaccine, which could mark a major step towards curbing the global pandemic.

Recent developments on vaccines and mass testing provide "real confidence" that restrictions to control the virus can be gradually reduced, the prime minister's office said.

Latest global developments

Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:

- Iran closes non-essential business -

Iran shuts non-essential businesses in over half its cities and towns for up to two weeks and introduces movement restrictions to rein in its novel coronavirus outbreak.

The Islamic republic has avoided imposing a full lockdown since it was hit by Covid-19 in February, with President Hassan Rouhani arguing the country's sanctions-battered economy cannot afford to be shut down for an extended period.

-- Italy plans vaccine campaign --

Italy, one of the countries hit worst by the coronavirus pandemic, plans to launch a massive vaccination campaign in January.

The vaccine drive "will get underway towards the end of January when we hope to have the first doses," Health Minister Roberto Speranza says.

-- Danish breeders protest mink cull --

Hundreds of Danish farmers and mink breeders demonstrate with their tractors against a government decision to cull their minks to halt the spread of a coronavirus variant.

- G20 urged to plug virus funding gap -

G20 nations emphasise the need for global access to coronavirus vaccines at a Saudi-hosted virtual summit dominated by efforts to tackle the pandemic and the worst global recession in decades.

The leaders are huddling online for the two-day gathering as international efforts intensify for a large-scale rollout of coronavirus vaccines after a breakthrough in trials, and as calls grow for G20 nations to plug a $4.5-billion funding shortfall

- Russia cases, deaths hit new highs -

Russia registers record numbers for daily infections and deaths from the coronavirus, two days after having passed two million cases.

Health officials reported 24,822 new infections and 476 deaths, bringing the national total to 2,064,748 million cases and 35,778 fatalities since the beginning of the year.

Those figures suggest a lower death rate than elsewhere in the world, but the official Russian death toll only includes those in which Covid has been established as the primary cause of death after an autopsy.

- Poland urges no travel over Christmas -

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki warns Poles against any travel over the Christmas period, and says most coronavirus restrictions will be extended but shops will re-open.

Theatres, bars and restaurants will remain closed until after Christmas, and schools will maintain distance learning.

But shopping centres will be allowed to re-open fully from November 28.

- More than 1.3 million deaths -

The coronavirus has killed at least 1,373,381 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT Saturday.

At least 57,583,290 cases of coronavirus have been registered, of which at least 36,725,500 are now considered recovered.

The United States is the worst-affected country with 254,424 deaths from 11,913,945 cases. It is followed by Brazil with 168,613 deaths; India with 132,726 deaths; Mexico with 100,823 deaths; and the United Kingdom with 54,286 deaths.

- France poised to reopen stores -

France is preparing to reopen stores for the crucial Christmas shopping season, encouraged by new data suggesting the country is past the worst of its second wave of infections.

Thanks to curfews and partial lockdowns, confirmed new infections dropped by 40 percent last week, admissions to hospital fell by 13 percent, and the number of new intensive care patients was down by nine percent, according to the national health agency.

With inputs from AFP.