Pakistan has sought $3.7 billion additional loan from three multilateral creditors to cope with the economic crisis being posed by the coronavirus outbreak as the pandemic spread further in the country, infecting over 1,100 people and killing nine so far.
In addition to $1.4 billion loan from the IMF, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank will extend loans of $1 billion and $1.25 billion respectively to the country, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said at a news conference on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had earlier announced a Rs 1.2 trillion economic relief package.
The number of coronavirus patients in Pakistan has reached to 1,130, according to the latest official data. There were 421 patients in Sindh, 345 in Punjab, 131 in Balochistan, 123 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 84 in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), 25 in Islamabad and 1 in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, according to the website of ministry of health services.
There was another death due to the virus, taking the toll to 9, while 28 patients have recovered so far and 5 were in critical conditions.
Slight improvement was seen in worst-hit Sindh as the number of new cases slowed but it was increasing in Punjab, Balochistan, KP, GB and federal capital areas.
Balochistan government spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani said 12 more coronavirus cases were reported, taking the total provincial tally to 131.
KP health official reported 43 new cases as the provincial tally rose to 123. Its worst hit area was Manga village of Mardan district where the virus spread when a man returned from Saudi Arabia after performing pilgrimage (Umra) and invited 2,000 villagers to celebrate it. Reportedly, he hugged everyone. Later, he was tested positive and incidentally was the first to die in Pakistan due to the coronavirus.
Pakistan President Arif Alvi has urged religious scholars to stop all congregational prayers to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The move came following a 'fatwa' (edict) issued on Wednesday by the Grand Imam Shaikh of Jamia Al Azhar and the Supreme Council in Egypt, saying that head of the state is empowered to stop collective prayers in the current situation. The clerics informed the president that over 3 million madrassa students were sent homes after closing seminaries.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday paid a visit to an isolation centre in Islamabad, where he was briefed about the arrangements by the chairman of National Disaster Management Authority. Separately, Khan chaired a meeting of National Core Committee to evaluate response to contain the virus.
Planning Minister Asad Umar told the media after the meeting that it was decided to keep education institutions across the country shut until May 31. Also, the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) was not allowed by the government to fly four special flights to Toronto, London, Manchester and Birmingham amid a rise in the number of coronavirus cases across the United Kingdom and North America.