Former PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid test positive for Covid-19

Updated 09 Jun 2020

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Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (R) and incumbent Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid have tested positive and are in isolation. — Dawn.com
Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (R) and incumbent Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid have tested positive and are in isolation. — Dawn.com

Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and incumbent Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Monday, joining a growing list of politicians who have contracted the disease.

Earlier today, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb confirmed Khaqan had been diagnosed with the virus, adding that he had quarantined himself at home.

Shehbaz Sharif extended well wishes for Abbasi's health, saying that the PML-N's vice president was a "valuable asset of the party". Sharif also expressed concern over the growing number of coronavirus cases in the country.

Later in the day, a statement issued by the Railways ministry confirmed that Rashid had also been infected, adding that the minister was not experiencing any symptoms. The statement said Rashid had gone into self-isolation at home for two weeks, as per recommendations by doctors.

Later, the minister took to Twitter to say he had tested positive for the virus. He maintained that he was not showing any symptoms and was "fine".

President Arif Alvi, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail and Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani called the minister to inquire after his health.

Meanwhile, PML-N leaders Marriyum Aurangzeb and Tariq Fazal Chaudhry also got tested after Abbasi was diagnosed with the virus, as they had been in contact with the former prime minister.

Chaudhry later announced on Twitter that he had also tested positive for Covid-19.

Marriyum Aurangzeb also confirmed to DawnNewsTV that both she and her mother MNA Tahira Aurangzeb had tested positive for the virus. She added that she has quarantined herself after contracting the virus.

Abbasi had been out and about last week — he went to the Lahore High Court to attend PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif's bail hearing and also held a press conference alongside other party leaders including Aurangzeb and Ahsan Iqbal.

Multiple politicians, including members of the ruling PTI, have been diagnosed with the virus in Pakistan as the government insists on easing lockdown against doctors' advice. More than 103,000 people have tested positive across the country since the first case emerged on Feb 26.

Read more: Pakistan among pioneers of 'smart lockdown' approach, says PM Imran

Prominent political leaders who have contracted the virus so far include National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail and PPP leader Saeed Ghani, all of whom have recovered.

Last week, MQM-P leader Faisal Sabzwari was diagnosed with the virus, along with his parents, wife and daughter. Before that another federal minister, Shehryar Afridi, had also tested positive and gone into isolation.

Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal MPA Abdul Rasheed and Senator Mirza Mohammad Afridi are also among politicians who have tested positive.

Former Balochistan governor Syed Fazal Agha, PTI Punjab MPA Shaheen Raza, Sindh Minister for Human Settlement Ghulam Murtaza Baloch, MNA Munir Khan Orakzai and PTI's Mian Jamshedud Din Kakakhel are among politicians who passed away after contracting the virus.