Pakistan reports 48 more deaths as active Covid-19 cases surpass 40,000

By: News Desk      Published: 10:52 AM, 24 Nov, 2020
Pakistan reports 48 more deaths as active Covid-19 cases surpass 40,000
An Indian national hugs her brother upon returning to India after being stranded due to the Covid-19 coronavirus, at the India Pakistan-Wagah Border Post.–AFP

The coronavirus claimed another 48 lives on Monday as Pakistan continues grappling with the second wave of the ongoing pandemic which is proving to be deadlier than the previous one.

It means the overall death toll in the country has now climbed to 7,744 with most of the people dying of the virus in Punjab during the past 24 hours, showed the latest data released by National Command and Operation Centre on Tuesday morning.

On Monday, Punjab recorded 18 deaths followed by 16 in Sindh, six in Islamabad, three each in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Kashmir, and two in Balochistan.

Meanwhile, the number of new coronavirus cases is also on the rise with the confirmation of 2,954 more people being infected during the past 24 hours, raising the total number of infections to 379,883 in the country.

Although Sindh is the most affected province of the country in terms of cases, most of the deaths have been reported in Punjab. The region-wise details are given as: 

Sindh 164,651 cases and 2,845 deaths, Punjab 115,138 cases and 2,879 deaths, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 44,932 cases and 1,330 deaths, Islamabad 27,555 cases and 285 deaths, Balochistan 16,846 cases and 163 deaths, Azad Kashmir 6,203 cases and 147 deaths, Gilgit Baltistan 4,558 cases and 95 deaths.

On the other hand, the alarming trend means the number of active coronavirus cases in the country has now jumped to 40,379 with 2,234 of these patients being treated in different hospitals across the country.

But 1,751 of them are currently in a critical condition and have been admitted in intensive care units. Alarmingly, 281 people are placed on ventilators.

As far as the recovery rate is concerned, 875 people fully recovered from the infection on Monday, increasing their overall number to 331,760.

During the past 24 hours, the authorities also administered 39,165 more tests in their efforts to identify, isolate and trace new cases to control the infection rate.

Spain's king self-isolating after virus contact

Spain's King Felipe VI is self-isolating after coming into contact with a person who tested positive for Covid-19, the palace said. "A person with whom he was in contact yesterday tested positive for Covid-19 today," the palace said in a statement, adding that the 52-year-old monarch had suspended all official activities for 10 days.

"In conformity with health rules, he will observe a preventative quarantine for 10 days starting now," the statement said.

Queen Letizia and the royal couple's daughters Leonor and Sofia "may continue their activities normally", it added.

Crown Princess Leonor, 15, self-isolated for two weeks in September after a Covid-19 infection was detected among her classmates. She later tested negative.

Spain is among the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic with more than 1.5 million cases and more than 43,000 deaths.

Americans defy virus guidelines

Busy airports and serpentine queues at testing sites: many Americans plan to celebrate Thanksgiving with extended family Thursday despite authorities warning they risk exacerbating the coronavirus pandemic engulfing the country.

Stopping short of issuing an outright ban, the US government's health protection agency has for the first time called on Americans not to travel for the annual holiday, which sees families get together over turkey, yams and cranberry sauce and for many is more important than Christmas.

With more than 150,000 new cases daily in the US, which has the world's highest coronavirus death toll of more than 256,000, most state governors have urged citizens not to turn their dining rooms into hotbeds of coronavirus

The government's highly respected infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci sought to lead by example by announcing that his three adult daughters would not be visiting him for Thanksgiving this year. He said he would celebrate the holiday alone with his wife, contenting himself with "a glass of wine" with his children over Zoom.

But after almost nine months of the pandemic the guidelines are too restrictive for some Americans who are finding ways to celebrate with loved ones while limiting the number of dinner guests.

- 'Busiest weekend' -

This weekend past, images on social media of crowded airports in Chicago and Phoenix fueled concerns about whether Americans were taking the warnings seriously enough.

It was the "busiest weekend" since the start of the pandemic with more than three million passengers passing through US airports, according to the Transportation Security Administration, which is responsible for security checks.

The number is less than half the seven million that traveled for Thanksgiving last year but health officials fear it is enough to fuel a catastrophic increase in cases in December.

"Our pleas for help have fallen on selfish deaf ears," tweeted Cleavon Gilman, an emergency doctor in Arizona, noting that the state's hospitals are "overwhelmed" with Covid patients.

New York and many other American cities have witnessed long queues outside testing centers in recent days as people seek negative tests to visit relatives with a clear conscience, even though health officials stress a test several days before a gathering doesn't eliminate the risk of transmission.

Twenty-four-year-old friends Amanda and Chris queued for two hours at a testing site in New York Sunday.

They are hesitant about visiting their families in Florida but felt pressured by their parents.

"Our family was the one who was like, 'Please just come this time'," said Amanda, who works in an auction house.

"When I told my mom we were going to wait in line, she was like, 'You dont need to do that.' They seem much less smart than we are," she told AFP.

Mary Perez, 54 and from Long Island, says she usually has 35 family members over for Thanksgiving but this year she will slightly exceed the New York governor's limit of 10 people. Eleven relatives will gather at her home: five adults and six children.

"I don't really feel I'm breaking the law (as) you can't really count the little ones. They have to come along with their parents," she told AFP.

- 'Pivotal moment' -

Even with minimal celebrations -- resulting in significantly smaller turkey orders this year, according to breeders -- officials fear an explosion of cases in the run-up to Christmas.

Since the start of the pandemic in March, holidays have triggered outbreaks of the virus, including after July 4, Labor Day in September and Halloween, according to health officials.

For Thanksgiving, the first holiday of the winter period, the risk is even greater because thousands of students will return home and often stay there until January.

Latest global developments

Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:

- Oxford vaccine - 

British drugs group AstraZeneca and Oxford University say their jointly-developed vaccine has shown "an average efficacy of 70 percent" in trials, and up to 90 percent if a small dose is given first. 

Unlike other leading vaccine candidates which must be kept at -70 degrees Celsius, the not-for-profit vaccine can be handled "at normal refrigerated conditions".

- Johnson sets new rules -

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the "escape route" from the coronavirus is in sight due to vaccine breakthroughs, as he announces that a tough lockdown in England will not be extended beyond December 2.

The lockdown will be replaced by a tiered system of toughened regional restrictions bolstered by major testing programmes in areas with the highest rates. He also announces a "time-limited" dispensation for families to gather for Christmas.

- Italy deaths pass 50,000 -

Italy passes the threshold of 50,000 deaths from Covid-19. Most took place earlier this year, after Italy became the first European country to be hit by the pandemic, but around 15,000 deaths have been reported since the beginning of September.

- 'Out of control' in Gaza -

The number of coronavirus infections in densely-populated Gaza is spinning out of control, Palestinian health officials warn, after the Hamas-ruled territory declared a record 24-hour high between Friday and Saturday. 

- Eurozone battered -

Forecasts predict the eurozone's economy will contract by a historic 7.4 percent in 2020 and expect a recovery of just 3.7 percent in 2021.

- Nearly 1.4 million deaths -

The coronavirus has killed at least 1,388,590 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP on Monday.

There were 7,157 new deaths and 511,144 new cases recorded worldwide in the previous 24 hours.

The United States is the worst-affected country with 256,798 deaths, followed by Brazil with 169,183 deaths; India with 133,738 deaths; Mexico with 101,676 deaths; and the United Kingdom with 55,024 deaths.

- Top surgical glove maker hit -

A Malaysian company that is the world's biggest manufacturer of surgical gloves is closing more than half of its factories after a surge in coronavirus cases among workers.

Top Glove has seen a huge jump in demand since the start of the pandemic but there has been a cluster of virus outbreaks among Top Glove employees at factories in an industrial area near the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

More than 1,000 cases were recorded Monday, prompting the government to order the plants to close.

With inputs from AFP.