Pakistan registers sharp increase in COVID-19 positive cases

Women gathered to receive cash grant

Women gathered to receive cash grant

By Nasir Aijaz
TheAsiaN Representative

ISLAMABAD: The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan rose to 20,987 on Monday after hundreds of new infections were confirmed in the country.

There had been sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in the country during last three weeks, as the number of positive cases was about 5000 with a few deaths on April 13, 2020, which now have multiplied to 20987 while the death toll has risen to 476.

The province-wise breakup of the total number of cases as of May 4 evening is: Sindh: 7,882; Punjab: 7,646; Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 3,288;  Balochistan: 1,321; Islamabad Capital Territory: 415; Gilgit-Baltistan: 364 and Pakistan-administered Jammu & Kashmir: 71.

Women gathered to receive cash grant

Women gathered to receive cash grant

The province-wide breakup of deaths is: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 185; Sindh: 137; Balochistan: 21; Gilgit-Baltistan: 3; Punjab: 126; Islamabad Capital Territory: 4.

There had been a changing trend of coronavirus spread in different regions of the country. At the initial stage the Sindh province was on the top having largest number of COVID-19 positive cases, as the virus-infected pilgrims had started arriving from Iran via Iran-Balochistan land route after the pilgrimage of sacred places in Iran and Iraq. Later, several people returning from Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries, UK and USA by air also proved to be the vectors.


Tablighis in quarantine in Sindh

By then, Punjab province had a very small number of positive cases but suddenly, it surpassed Sindh, as a large number of Tablighis (Muslim preachers) were found infected with virus and caused the spread of disease.

Hundreds of Thousands Tablighis, the fundamentalist Muslims, used to attend annual congregation at a place – Raiwind in Punjab province. After the wide-spread virus was reported among the Tablighis, the provincial government of Punjab besieged the entire Raiwind area but by that time thousands of Tablighis had escaped and scattered to different areas.

According to official figures released by Sindh government, over 5000 Tablighis, mostly of Pushtun ethnicity, and including some Chinese Muslims, had entered into province from Punjab and hid at hundreds of mosques across Sindh. This factor again changed the trend and Sindh left the Punjab behind.

Sindh government took swift action through the district administration to locate the Tablighis and conduct the laboratory tests, and to the very surprise of people, 760 Tablighis were found infected with COVID-19 who had been quarantined at different places.


Tablighis in Pakistan

Another cause of widespread virus in Sindh was politics of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), who rules in the Center and three other provinces, which incited traders to flout the lockdown orders of Sindh government of Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) in the province to weaken it, as part of political game. The PTI playing the sinister role by inviting hundreds of thousands poor people to receive cash grants and food packets at government buildings in each town of Sindh, which resulted in overcrowding despite lockdown, and obviously caused the spread of virus.

According to official figures, the local transmission cases in Sindh are around 6900, which means the actual cases were very low and could have been controlled.

Now, at least 400 to 600 new positive cases are reported daily in Sindh multiplying the total number. According to Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah’s official statement issued Monday afternoon, 417 new cases were reported during last 24 hours and 357 of them belonged to Karachi, the provincial capital city.

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