Pakistan’s top leadership hit by COVID-19; President and defence minister latest victims

Islamabad, Mar 30 (PTI) Pakistan’s top leadership has been hit by the coronavirus with President Dr Arif Alvi and Defence Minister Pervez Khattak contracting it, days after Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife tested positive for the disease which is now raging in the country.

On Monday, President Alvi tweeted that he had tested positive for the virus.

“I have tested positive for COVID-19. May Allah have mercy on all COVID-affected. Had the first dose of the vaccine but antibodies started developing after the second dose that was due in a week. Please continue to be careful,” the president said.

The exact date when Alvi, 71, contracted the disease or the day of detection was not made public.

First Lady Samina Alvi tested negative for COVID-19 and was quarantining. She said the president has “mild symptoms but is in good spirits”.

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail tweeted that Defence Minister Khattak, 71, had also tested positive for the virus. “Perwaiz Khatak is diagnosed with Covid positive. Get well soon PK,” wrote Ismail, who himself contracted and recovered from the virus last year.

Prime Minister Khan, 68, tested positive for the virus on March 20. His wife Bushra Bibi also tested coronavirus positive the same day.

Senator Faisal Javed Khan, who is considered close to the premier, said on Tuesday that the prime minister has made full recovery from the coronavirus and has resumed work.

“He has resumed work gradually and started building up his work routine as per doctors’ instructions keeping in view national and international guidelines,” the senator tweeted, adding that the public should take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

It was not known if Prime Minister Khan’s wife had also recovered.

Meanwhile, former finance minister Hafeez Shaikh was tested positive for COVID-19, it emerged on Tuesday.

Shaikh, who was dropped from the Cabinet on Monday by Prime Minister Khan, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The news was tweeted by Shaikh’s successor Hammad Azhar.

“Just found out that Dr Hafeez Shaikh has tested positive for Covid-19. I pray for his swift recovery and good health. Ameen,” Azhar tweeted.

Pakistan is in the grip of a third wave of the coronavirus. The government has decided to impose fresh restrictions on social gatherings from April 5, with steady rise in cases and low supply of vaccines.

The country on Tuesday reported 4,084 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, taking its COVID-19 tally to 663,200.

The death toll climbed to 14,356 after 100 more people succumbed to the deadly disease, The Express Tribune reported.

A total of 2,081 patients recovered from the deadly disease in a day taking total recoveries to 600,278.

Pakistan’s National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Monday identified 26 cities, including Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Lahore, with over eight per cent positivity ratio.

On March 28, the NCOC had imposed a ban on all kinds of gatherings and wedding ceremonies in cities where the infection rate was more than 8 per cent. The centre had also suggested reduction in transportation between provinces and advised the provincial governments to expedite vaccination against the disease.

Authorities in Sindh on Tuesday imposed micro-smart lockdowns in three sub-divisions of the provincial capital Karachi amid rise in COVID-19 cases.

According to a notification, the micro-smart lockdowns have been imposed in the various union councils and residential areas of North Karachi, North Nazimabad and Gulberg. The lockdowns would remain in force till April 12.