Pakistan has recorded 45,898 infections and 985 deaths to date from the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Tuesday saw the most deaths in a single day reported, at 46.
Shaheen Raza, a 65-year-old female Member of the Punjab Assembly (MPA), the country's largest province, died in the eastern city of Lahore, the CEO of Mayo Hospital, Dr Asad Aslam, told Reuters.
"She was admitted to a hospital on May 17, and brought to Mayo Hospital on Monday, where she tested positive for the virus," Aslam said.
Passengers board a train at a station after the government eased a lockdown in Lahore on Wednesday. AFP
Raza belonged to the ruling party of Prime Minister Imran Khan and was elected on a reserved seat for women. Punjab's Health Minister Yasmeen Rashid, who is from the same party, said Raza had been visiting quarantine centres in the province for inspections and was a cancer survivor.
Meanwhile, despite rising rates of infections and deaths, Pakistan continued to open up the country on Wednesday, with cross-country train operations restarting after almost two months.
The timing of the restart presents a challenge for authorities with the holiday of Eid Al Fitr, which marks the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan, due to fall on Sunday or Monday, subject to the sighting of the new moon - meaning tens of thousands of people will be looking to board trains for their home towns.
Passengers wearing face masks wait to board the Karachi bound Awam Express at the Rawalpindi railway station. AFP
Railways authorities told Reuters that bookings had been limited to 60% of capacity to ensure social distancing. Tickets sold out shortly after becoming available.
Passengers sit in a carriage of a train at a station before leaving for Rawalpindi in Lahore. AFP
"Walk-through sanitising gates, thermometers and sanitisers have been supplied to all railway stations," Pakistan Railways public relations director Quratul Ain told Reuters, adding no passenger with a temperature or not wearing a mask would be allowed to travel.
Officials and experts said that the female doctors were brought back to the Sindh’s health system through a technology-driven initiative by one of the oldest public sector medical universities in the country, which has so far succeeded in bringing back to the profession over 800 Pakistani lady doctors in different countries.
Production should start "within weeks," said Osman Khalid Waheed, the chief executive of Ferozsons Laboratories Ltd, which will produce the drug. He spoke at a news conference alongside Pakistan's de facto health minister, Zafar Mirza.
“We are seeing a roughly similar pattern everywhere — I suspect we have more immunity than estimated,” Professor Karol Sikora, who previously directed the WHO’s cancer programme, said.
The surge in deaths and number of corona patients also indicate the looming danger, said a research done by Geo News, which is based on experts’ comments and analysis of data collected from four big cities of the country.
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