Pakistan PM Imran Khan tests positive for COVID-19: Top health official

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Updated: Mar 20, 2021 9:24 PM

According to the Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus tracker, Pakistan has so far reported 623,135 cases and 13,799 deaths.

Khan was vaccinated as part of the nationwide anti-coronavirus vaccination campaign which is underway in its first phase.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday tested positive for the COVID-19 and is self-isolating at home, his top aide on health announced, two days after he got the first shot of a vaccine.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Dr Faisal Sultan took to Twitter to confirm that Khan, 68, has contracted the coronavirus on a day when the country registered the highest number of COVID-19 cases since July last year.

Khan was vaccinated on Thursday as part of the nationwide anti-coronavirus vaccination campaign which is underway in its first phase.

Khan is reported to have received the first shot of the Chinese-produced Sinopharm vaccine, the only anti-COVID jab available in Pakistan.

“PM Imran Khan has tested positive for Covid-19 and is self isolating at home,” Sultan said in a tweet.

Khan’s spokesman Dr Shehbaz Gill said that the prime minister has just a slight fever and cough.

The report of Khan contracting the coronavirus came on a day the country reported 3,876 cases in the past 24 hours, the highest number since July last year. On July 2 last year, 4,432 cases were reported.

Pakistan started its COVID-19 vaccination drive in February after the first arrival of China-gifted vaccine doses, with frontline health workers given the priority for inoculation, while on March 10, the country started vaccination for the general public, starting with people aged 60 and above, Geo News reported.

Issuing a clarification on Khan’s vaccination, the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination said that antibodies develop two to three weeks after the 2nd dose of the 2-dose COVID-19 vaccines.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan was not fully vaccinated when he contracted the virus. He only got the 1st dose and merely 2 days ago which is too soon for ANY vaccine to become effective. Anti-bodies develop 2-3 weeks after the 2nd dose of COVID vaccines,” it said on Twitter.

On Sunday, he was scheduled to interact with the public via telephone calls. However, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senator Dr Faisal Javed said that a new time and date will be announced soon.

“Due to PM Imran testing positive for Covid-19, a new date for live interaction with the public will be announced soon. Lots of prayers for everyone and PM Imran,” he said in a tweet.

Javed added that Khan was experiencing “mild symptoms” and will continue to work from home over video conferencing.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended his best wishes to his Pakistani counterpart for a speedy recovery from COVID-19.

Modi tweeted his wishes to Khan, “Best wishes to Prime Minister @ImranKhanPTI for a speedy recovery from COVID-19.”

Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar said that the vaccine develops more than 80 per cent immunity two weeks after the second injection.

“Furthermore, no cabinet minister, including the Prime-Minister, nor any of their relatives jumped the queue or violated the priority order to receive the vaccine,” he said.

Chief Minister of Punjab Usman Buzdar said that the recent spike in COVID-19 cases and positivity rate is alarming and “we all need to be extra careful and strictly follow safety protocols!!”

Supporters and ministers of Khan, a former captain of the Pakistani cricket team, started sending messages of goodwill soon after the news of his diagnosis was shared with #ImranKhan becoming the top trend on Twitter.

Minister for Science Fawad Chaudhry said that the people of Pakistan are praying for their leader. “May God return him to good health soon.”

Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi said that the premier will recover soon and be back to work “in a flash”.

Khan had been active until Friday when he visited Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and inaugurated a highway and an academic block of a university.

He urged the citizens to ensure the full implementation of norms to prevent the surge in cases of coronavirus.

Pakistan officials last week said that the country was hit by the third wave of the pandemic.

According to the Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker, Pakistan has so far reported 623,135 cases and 13,799 deaths.

In July last year, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was treated for the coronavirus.

Last year, several Pakistani lawmakers contracted the coronavirus, with prominent among them being Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) leader and Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunications Syed Aminul Haq, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb, Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.

Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, PTI Member of the National Assembly (MNA) Jai Prakash, Minister of State for Narcotics Shehryar Afridi and PTI’s chief whip in the National Assembly Aamir Dogar had also been diagnosed with COVID-19 last year.

In June, MNA Munir Khan Orakzai died, days after recovering from the coronavirus.

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser was also infected but recovered.

Eight members of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly had also been infected with the coronavirus.

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