PAKISTAN

Information last updated: 22 April, 2020

  • Total population: 212.2 M
  • Population +65: 4%
  • GDP Per Capita: 4,855 USD
  • Informal employment: 71% (2018)
  • First registered case: 26 February
  • Hospital beds: 4.50 (per 1,000 people)

Status

National Level lockdown until April 30, 2020.

Response set up and capacity

An emergency core committee for COVID-19 has been created as is chaired by Dr. Zafar Mirza, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister. Other members include the Prime Minister, representatives from the Ministry of Health, Secretary of Health and National Institute of Health, and academia, amongst others. 

In addition to this, a National Action Plan (NAP) for COVID-19 was formulated with the vision of leading a national response effort to the pandemic while ensuring continual maximum preparedness, and optimal and effective response capacity of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. This plan has also been conceived looking to ensure minimal national morbidity and mortality, thereby decreasing the burden of disease on the economy of the country. The goals of NAP include rapidly establishing and strengthening coordination to deliver strategic, technical, and operational support through existing mechanisms and country partnerships; inter-departmental coordination and assigning specific roles and responsibilities to all arms of the government; scaling up country response operations, including strengthening readiness capacity to rapidly identify, diagnose and treat cases including identification of contacts with tracing and follow up; and minimizing community spread of virus in Pakistan, amongst others. 

Stakeholder Mapping

Entities / Organizations

• Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination
• Federal & Provincial District Administration National Disaster Management Authority
• National Institute of Health
• Central Health Establishment
• Federal & District Surveillance Units (including FELTP)
• National Health Emergency Preparedness & Response Network
• Designated Hospitals

Additional actors

• Armed Forces of Pakistan
• Civil Aviation Authority
• Federal Investigation Agency
• World Health Organization (WHO) Country Office
• Centres for Disease Prevention & Control (CDC) US
• Public Health England (PHE)
• John Snow International (JSI)

Mitigating factors - What is being done?

  • January 27: Baluchistan province starts taking steps to prevent the virus, creating a provincial government committee to prepare a response. 
  • January 29 – Four Pakistani students in China test positive for COVID-19. 
  • February 23 – Pakistan closes its borders with Iran (at Taftan) to travelers until 7th March after 43 cases were reported in Iran. 
  • February 26-  The first two cases are reported in Pakistan, both from individuals returned from Iran. 
  • March 2 – Pakistan closes its borders with Afghanistan. 
  • March 5 – Strict Screening measures are put in place at four major airports (Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi city). 
  • March 7 – Borders open to travelers from Iran after 14-days of closure. 
  • March 9 – Closure of border with Afghanistan extended for at least another week.
  • March 10 – Government of Sindh province imposes temporary ban on marriage halls, lawns, banquets, hotels and tea stalls. 
  • March 11 – Pakistani Consulate in Milan announces First death of a Pakistani national in Brescia, Italy. 
  • March 12 – The remaining matches of the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL) are announced to be held without an audience.
  • March 13 – All flights except those from three international airports in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi are put on hold; the President of Pakistan advises the public about social distancing precautions for flu-like symptoms; announcement of school closures in most of the provinces, until initially until end of March, and later extended to end of May; the Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) government declares a medical emergency and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) offers international players participating in PSL to leave for their home countries if they wish so.
  • March 14 – Announcement that the Pakistan Day Parade, scheduled to be held on 23rd March is canceled; local government of Azad Kashmir declares health emergency and announces closure of all educational institutions and postponement of secondary school examinations.
  • March 17 – Matches of the PSL are indefinitely postponed due to sudden spike of COVID-19 in the country.
  • March 21 – All international flights are suspended for two weeks; Sindh provincial government announces a 14 day lockdown and orders closure of all public transport, markets, offices, shopping malls, restaurants and public areas; Inter-provincial transportation is suspended for three days in Azad Kashmir (Violators are said to be punished under the Epidemic Diseases Act); The city administration of Islamabad imposes Section 144 (ban all activities in mosques) in the region for 15 days. 
  • March 22 – Gilgit-Baltistan goes under lockdown for an indefinite period of time, and the provincial government suspends all inter-city transportation;  the federal government offers financial assistance of $10 million from non-developmental funds of the World Bank to the Sindh province. 
  • March 23 – The Prime Minister of Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJ&K) announces lockdown for three weeks.
  • March 24 – Sindh and Punjab provinces go into lockdown until the first week of April; the PCB agrees to convert its Hanif Muhammad High Performance Centre into a temporary living area for paramedic staff; The Peshawar High Court closes all courts until 28th March in KPK province; The Prime Minister approves PKR 1.2 trillion economic relief package, out of which PKR 150 billion is  allotted to low income groups, whereas 280 billion are assigned for wheat procurement; loan interest payments for exporters are deferred temporarily, while a package of $63 million is provided to support small industries and agriculture sector; Under the monthly stipend package of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), an increase of PKR 1000 is decided. Under Ehsaas Programme, 5.2 million beneficiaries under National Socio-Economic Registry (NSER) of BISP, will receive relief packages; Baluchistan province announces complete lockdown until April 7. 
  • March 27 – National Institute of Health (NIH) distributes N95 masks across Sindh province; GB local government decides to test all travelers coming from Taftan border; the Chinese government donates medical equipment and 10 tonnes of other goods (including five ventilators, 2,000 N95 masks, 200,000 face masks, 2,000 testing kits and Personal Protective Equipment) to GB government; doctors and paramedical staff are presented the Guard of honor by Pakistani law enforcement agencies across Sukkur, Quetta and Dera Ismail Khan, Lahore etc; creation of youth force labelled “Tiger Force” is announced to help government fight against coronavirus nationwide. 
  • March 28 – Foundation set up by Jack Ma and the Alibaba Group send second aircraft carrying medical supplies with at least 50,000 testing kits, large number of masks, ventilators, PPEs worth PKR 67 million; Government of Sindh province restrict movement between 8 AM and 5 PM while all grocery stores are ordered to close by 5 PM; Government of Punjab province announces a PKR 10 billion relief package to support 2.5 million families of daily wage workers; Labs around the province are said to be testing 3,200 people daily, with the recruitment of 10,000 doctors and paramedics. 
  • March 29 – KPK Provincial government develops and disseminates quarantine discontinuation guideline; highways and roads across the country open to ensure the transportation of goods, and freight trains were increased to avert shortage of food supplies; Government of Punjab province announce a one-month honorarium for healthcare workers; KPK provincial government approves PKR 32 billion stimulus economic package for relief to masses (PKR 11.4 billion benefiting 1.9 million deserving families) and business community (exempted from taxes worth PKR 5 billion). The provincial government ramps up testing capacity with 500 new diagnostics kits. 
  • 30th March – National University of Science and Technology (NUST) develops testing kits and hands them over to Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) for final approval; Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) develops ventilators in collaboration with NED University of Engineering and Technology and Pakistan Engineering Board and were also handed over to DRAP; Higher Education Commission publishes call for proposals to assist the government in its fight against COVID-19; Mayor of Karachi city designates five cemeteries for burial of those who have died from coronavirus; Sindh provincial government directs private schools to pay full salaries to their staff on time and factories and other private firms were advised the same.  
  • March 31 – The Economic Committee (ECC) finalized a relief package including PKR 100 billion supplementary grant for the Emergency Relief Fund. Also, a special grant to provide relief to poor families under Ehsaas Programme (for four months as a one-time compensation) is announced.  
  • April 2 – Report estimates that the economic loss for Pakistan due to the pandemic is worth PKR 2.5 trillion and projects that 12.3 to 18.5 million people could lose their jobs due to the pandemic.
  • April 6 – Government fundraises PKR 30.5 million from citizens through SMS  service
  • April 14 – World Health Organization provides the  National Disaster Management Authority with 15 PCR machines and test kits to carry 15,000 tests; the International Monetary Fund (IMF) acknowledges PKR 1.2 trillion relief package announced by government; national broadcast education channel inaugurated by the Prime Minister of Pakistan to mitigate loss faced by students due to educational institutions closure; prominent NGOs fundraise PKR 4 billion for relief work (giving rations, protective gears and medical items for needy, daily wage workers, transgender community and minorities); the Western and Eastern borders of the country are announced to remain closed for two more weeks.
  • April 15 – Government of Pakistan extends lockdown for another two weeks with some essential industries allowed to open. 

Potential actions and demands

  • Currently, Pakistan is in the midst of a national governance crisis, and generally, a shift in government is not something desirable at the moment. There is uncertainty whether someone could take the place of current leaders, though existing fissures within the country’s party ranks, and growing concerns over key institutions have casted doubt on Khan’s ability to govern during this time. 
  • Overall, it has been difficult to get people to abide by social distancing and stay at home rules.  

Key resources

Contributor(s): Dr. Tahir Mumtaz Awan

The C-19 Global South Observatory is a collaboration between