Pakistan on Friday reported 882 new cases of coronavirus, taking the total number of infections in the country to 17,699 with 408 deaths, the health ministry said. The Ministry of National Health Services said 23 deaths were reported, taking the death toll to 408.

Punjab reported 6,340 cases, Sindh 6,675, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 2,799, Balochistan 1,136, Islamabad 343, Gilgit-Baltistan 340 and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir reported 66 cases, according to the latest data released by the ministry. Among the high profile politicians tested positive for the deadly virus include Pakistan’s National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, apart from Governor of Pakistan’s southern Sindh province Imran Ismail, a very close aide of Prime Minister Imran Khan. The health ministry said that so far 182,131 tests had been conducted, including 7,971 on April 30.

“There were 3,706 patients admitted in 717 hospitals with COVID-19 facilities across the country. The rest of the patients were isolated at homes,” according to the ministry. Advisor on Health Zafar Mirza said that either the end of May or middle of June could be the peak period for coronavirus in the country. “But it can be different also as we are not sure and monitoring the situation closely, Mirza had told media on Thursday. The health ministry said that infection was taking toll on the health professionals, as 191 more healthcare providers had tested positive.

Earlier data shared on April 23 showed that 253 healthcare workers were infected, while the new figure showed that the number increased to 444, registering 75 per cent jump. Those infected include 216 doctors, 67 nurses and 161 other healthcare staff. So far 94 patients have recovered from the virus.

Meanwhile, the leadership of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) ruling Sindh province accused the federal government of Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) for not providing funds on time to help the province tackle the pandemic. PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said the federal government was sabotaging the Sindh’s government efforts against the coronavirus.

“Day and night the Sindh chief minister is attacked. They are attacking the province with the most limited resources,” he said at reporters during a press conference on Friday. PTI leader Shahbaz Gill in a counter attack said the central government would not provide cash “because we don’t know where that money goes.”

“We will not give you cash. You will transfer it to the accounts of others and use it for money laundering. Prime Minister Imran Khan will not you rob (the country),” Gill tweeted. With the rise in cases, over 400 members of Tableeghi Jamaat infected with COVID-19 and quarantined at a centre here on Thursday broke open the building’s main door to make a failed escape attempt.

“On Thursday a good number of COVID-19 patients mostly from Tableeghi Jamaat members refused to stay (at the centre) and broke open the door in a bid to escape,” said Dr Asad Aslam, a doctor and the one supervising the management of the Expo Centre Field Hospital. “A law and order situation occurred, however, police managed to control the situation and send all those trying to escape back to the centre,” he added.

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