Pakistan’s health minister tests positive for COVID-19

Pakistan's Health Minister, Zafar Mirza (R), interacts with the mother of a Pakistani student, who is stuck in the locked down Hubei province at the center of China's coronavirus outbreak, as people demand evacuation of their children during a meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan February 19, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 06 July 2020

Pakistan’s health minister tests positive for COVID-19

  • Health Minister Zafar Mirza said he had tested positive for COVID-19

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Pakistan’s health minister on Monday said he had tested positive for COVID-19, the latest senior figure to contract the novel coronavirus in a country where rising cases are putting pressure on the health system.
“I have tested positive for COVID-19. Under (medical) advice I have isolated myself at home & taking all precautions. I have mild symptoms. Please keep me in your kind prayers,” State Minister of Health Zafar Mirza said on Twitter.
Pakistan has so far confirmed more than 229,831 cases with 4,762 deaths, according to government figures. The country has continued to confirm around 4,000 new cases per day, despite daily testing numbers falling.
A number of high level officials have tested positive in Pakistan, including Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi who announced he had the virus on Friday, just days after meeting with US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad.
The Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed and the speaker of the lower house of parliament, Asad Qaiser have also contracted the virus.
On Monday, 48 doctors resigned in the eastern city of Lahore, one of the hardest hit areas by the virus. Salman Haseeb, president of the Young Doctors Association for Punjab, said the resignations were due to low morale in the stretched health system due to poor working conditions.
“See the lack of seriousness of the government during the deadly pandemic that it is accepting resignations instead of addressing the doctors’ problems at this critical time when more doctors are much needed in Pakistan,” he said. The spokesman for the Punjab Health Department, Syed Hammad Raza, told Reuters that the resignations were not related to COVID-19 and were due to personal reasons, and that doctors had enough protective equipment and received extra bonuses for working during the pandemic.


India moves Kashmiri village leaders to safety after wave of attacks

Updated 14 min 36 sec ago

India moves Kashmiri village leaders to safety after wave of attacks

  • Separatists fighting Indian rule in the disputed region have stepped up attacks on lower level politicians
  • Two security officials said that around 500 politicians had been moved since Thursday

SRINAGAR: India has shifted scores of village and municipality leaders, mostly from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party, to secure locations in Kashmir after a spate of militant attacks, police and two security officials said on Friday.
Separatists fighting Indian rule in the disputed region have stepped up attacks on lower level politicians, many of whom do not have personal security guards, in recent weeks.
“It is a temporary arrangement,” Kashmir valley’s police chief Vijay Kumar told Reuters. “We will devise a strategy to provide security to those who are vulnerable.”
Two security officials, asking not to be named, said that around 500 politicians had been moved since Thursday, after militants shot dead a village council leader from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in southern Kashmir.
Many of those under protection have been housed in hotels and government buildings guarded by paramilitary troops, one official said. “We don’t want to take any chances,” he said.
Sofi Yousuf, a BJP vice president in Kashmir, said that his colleagues were being targeted to prevent the party from expanding in the Himalayan region, where insurgents have waged war against New Delhi since the late 1980s.
“They want to create a fear psychosis on the ground,” Yousuf said.
The federal government has been trying to promote political activities since it revoked Kashmir’s special status in an attempt to draw it closer to the rest of the country.
But the loss of special privileges stoked anger across the region and this week authorities imposed a strict lockdown on the first anniversary of that decision.
Underlining the difficulties the government faces in restoring normalcy to Kashmir, around a dozen BJP members resigned from the party this week, fearing militant attacks.