PML-N's Safdar, PPP's Kaira contract Covid while on GB campaign trail

Published November 9, 2020
PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira (L) and PML-N leader Retired captain Mohammad Safdar (R). — DawnNewsTV/File
PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira (L) and PML-N leader Retired captain Mohammad Safdar (R). — DawnNewsTV/File

PML-N Youth Wing President retired Captain Mohammad Safdar and PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira have tested positive for the coronavirus while campaigning for their parties in Gilgit-Baltistan, it emerged on Monday.

PML-N Youth Wing spokesman Ali Khan Yusufzai said Safdar had complained of flu and fever while campaigning in Skardu. He returned to Islamabad with his wife, PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz, on Saturday after which he was tested for the virus.

Thereafter, Safdar flew to Lahore on Sunday night and was admitted to the Sharif Medical City Hospital on the advice of doctors, Yusufzai said, adding that Safdar's condition is satisfactory.

Meanwhile, PPP leader and former information minister, Qamar Zaman Kaira, also tested positive for coronavirus, Sindh Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah confirmed in a tweet.

Shah said Kaira, who has been campaigning with party chairman Bilawal Zardari-Bhutto in Gilgit-Baltistan for over two weeks, is a great "asset of the party" and prayed for his health.

Kaira has also returned from GB and is under quarantine.

For the last two weeks, political leaders from the country's major parties have been campaigning in GB where legislative assembly elections will be held on Nov 15.

However, the region has seen an increase in coronavirus positivity rates with the National Command and Operation Centre saying that the positivity rate in Gilgit, the capital of Gilgit-Baltistan, has climbed to 15.38 per cent — the third-highest in the country.

The NCOC, in a meeting earlier this morning, observed that the Covid-19 positivity ratio is rapidly increasing in major cities, with the rate exceeding 15 per cent in at least three cities across the country.

"The overall nationwide positivity ratio is 4.5pc [while] 15 major cities across the country have a higher ratio," the statement said.

The second wave of the coronavirus has intensified in the country with Pakistan reporting more than 1,000 daily cases for the last week and more than 1,600 daily infections on Nov 8.

On Friday, the NCOC decided to fine people who are not wearing masks Rs100 and provide them with three masks on the spot. It also announced that from Nov 20 onwards, wedding events will be held in open areas with a maximum of 1,000 guests.

Safdar and Kaira are among several politicians and lawmakers who have tested positive for Covid-19 since the pandemic first emerged in Pakistan.

Some of the prominent political leaders who have contracted the virus so far include National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, PPP leader Saeed Ghani and Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Taimur Jhagra and Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani — all of whom have recovered.


With additional reporting by Nadir Guramani.

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