PAKISTAN: Number of Covid-19 cases in Pakistan crossed the 5,000-mark on Saturday, and nearly half of them are from Punjab province alone. The Ministry of National Health Services said that 254 new infections were reported in Pakistan, taking the total number to 5,038.

The nation-wide breakdown of the patients showed that Punjab has 2,425 cases, Sindh 1,318, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) 697, Balochistan 228, Gilgit-Baltistan 216, Islamabad 119 and Pakistan occupied Kashmir 35.

In the last 24 hours, 14 people have died in the country due to Covid-19, taking the total number of dead in Pakistan to 86.

The coronavirus crisis is going to take a heavy toll on Pakistan’s economy, the World Bank said. In a report based on country-level data till April 7, the bank said that Pakistan, along with Afghanistan and the Maldives, is expected to fall into recession. Pakistan’ economy is expected to shrink by up to 2.2 per cent, the World Bank report further said

Social distancing, quarantines, and the closure of businesses will have enormous economic consequences for garment and textile workers, domestic workers, home-based workers, and other workers in low-income households.

Pakistan’s economic growth is projected to shrink to 2.6 per cent in 2020 from 3.3 per cent in 2019, while inflation will remain around 11.5 per cent for 2020, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said in in its latest report.

“The Pakistan government should take measures so that the loss of livelihood and income doesn’t compound the threats workers face to their health,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The economically marginalized are among the most vulnerable groups affected by COVID-19, and the government should urgently find ways to protect them.”

The Pakistan government has announced a tax reduction to help businesses deal with the economic impact of COVID-19. Unconditional tax cuts for employers are often poorly targeted and may not reach those most in need. Instead, expanded social insurance programs that include unemployment benefits would permit workers in the formal and informal economy to prioritize their health needs. Donors, international financial institutions, and global companies that depend on Pakistan’s workers should work together to create social protection for workers.

Globally, the novel coronavirus that originated in China in December has killed 108,862 people and infected over 1.7 million people globally. The US has the highest number of infections at 529,887, according to Johns Hopkins University data.