COVID Watch | 15th April 2020


Punjab Cases Skyrocket

The emergence of 200 COVID-19 cases in a single day has taken Punjab’s tally to approximately 2,850. 130 of the latest cases surfaced from quarantine facilities where worshippers who had attended the Tableeghi Jamaat on March 10 had been isolated. Multan reported the highest numbers, with 105 worshippers testing positive for the virus. Among the worrying amount of cases received on Tuesday, April 14, 89 prisoners being held in 4 jails across Punjab also tested positive for COVID-19. 59 cases were detected in Lahore Camp Jail and District Jail Lahore alone.

Ulema Reject Restrictions

Pakistan’s top ulema and leaders of religious parties held a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday, April 14, moments after Prime Minister Imran Khan announced extending the lockdown, declaring that congregational prayers with necessary precautions will be held despite restrictions.

Vice President and Shaykh al-Hadith at Darul Uloom Karachi, Muhammad Taqi Usmani, stated that Muslims needed to offer prayers in congregation during Ramzan and that prayers will be held in mosques. However, he cautioned worshippers to practice all necessary measures, such as maintaining a distance of 1 meter, wearing masks and gloves, and using hand sanitizers. He also demanded the immediate release of worshippers who had been arrested for violating the ban on public gatherings by attending congregational prayers.

Worshippers Get Bail

On Tuesday, April 14, a Karachi court granted pre-arrest bails to worshippers who had assaulted police, including female SHO Sharafat Khan, for attempting to disperse congregational Friday prayers Karachi’s Jamia Masjid on April 10. Around 30 worshippers, including Jamia Masjid’s imam, Abdul Rehman, had been arrested for inciting violence and flouting section 144, which restricts public gatherings of more than 5 people.

Women at Risk

A policy paper titled “Gendered Impact and Implications of COVID-19 in Pakistan”, jointly published by the Ministry of Human Rights, UN Women Pakistan and the National Commission on the Status of Women (NSCW), reveals that women risk increasing violence and a shrinking livelihood during the restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The paper also recommends policies designed to address the immediate concerns of and risks to women

Relief for Minorities

Rs. 29 million are to be disbursed to underprivileged minorities, per the orders of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan. Rs. 5 million have also been allocated for arranging weddings for orphaned girls, and Rs. 1 million to 100 orphans from tribal areas.

Internet a Basic Right

The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday, April 14 ordered the restoration of 3G and 4G internet services in the tribal districts during a hearing of a petition filed by a student, Syed Muhammad, against the lack of internet disadvantaging the academic careers of tribal students. Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court Athar Minallah asserted that internet access is a basic right as per the UN Charter and that Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan protects and guarantees its citizens freedom of expression.