Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Pakistan, China deliberate on transfer of prisoners

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) has held deliberations in Beijing on a treaty on the transfer of convicted criminals between China and Pakistan.

Li Zhanshu, Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, presided over the meeting, the Chinese media reported. It was decided to submit the above draft to the ongoing NPC Standing Committee for review. 

It may be recalled that both sides had held initial deliberations in August 2014 in Islamabad and reached consensus on a series of provisions. 

In November 2018, Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang, witnessed the signing ceremony between Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and China’s Justice Minister, Fu Zhenghua in Beijing. 

The treaty is considered as an important legal document on judicial assistance which has laid a legal foundation for China and Pakistan to strengthen cooperation on the transfer of sentenced persons. 

Once the treaty comes into force, the two countries would be able to transfer sentenced persons back to their own country. The bilateral treaty will come into force after being endorsed by top legislature of the two countries.

China’s postponed iconic sessions in May

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

This year's two sessions, China's most important annual political event, will be held in late May in Beijing, an official release issued on April 29, declared.

The third plenary session of the 13th National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, will kick off on May 22, while the third plenary session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the nation's top political advisory body, will start on May 21, according to the information in the official handout. 

The term ‘two sessions’ refers to the annual full session of the NPC, which customarily begins on March 5, and the annual plenary session of the CPPCC National Committee, which was originally scheduled to open on March 3. 

Both the sessions this year were postponed in February, as the nation was focusing on fighting the novel coronavirus epidemic (COVID-19) at the time. 

Every year during the two sessions, about 3,000 national legislators and 2,150 national political advisers travel to Beijing to review work reports of the central government, top judicial authorities and the annual budget, and to bring voices from the grassroots and different social sectors to the central leadership.

Coronavirus Update: Deaths mounting in Sindh

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Sindh, which had been able to see its overall COVID-19 infection rates stable in the recent days, witnessed no reduction in its prevailing rate of relevant deaths as the health authorities here confirmed on April 28 that another seven virus infected patients, including three females, lost their lives at Karachi and two districts of the province.

Contrary to the overall COVID-19 death rate of 2.13% in the country, Sindh had its overall death rate as 1.73%, with a total 92 deaths among 5,291 infection cases on April 28. It had a death rate of 2.20% on April 20, which decreased to 1.71 by April 27, but increased to 1.73% again on April 28.

Apart from the overall death rate, keen observers noted that Sindh showed the death rate on average 1.91% in seven days, from April 21 to 27, when 24 people died of COVID-19 in hospitals and homes.

The disturbing fact is that Sindh reported seven deaths on April 28 again, said an analyst, commenting that such deaths, mostly including the senior citizens, obviously made one feel that hospitals were upset due to continued presentation of coronavirus cases.

“They were yet needed to improve their patient filtration points for a timely detection and treatment of patients and strengthen their critical care units and staffs,” the expert commented.

On the other hand Sindh had an the overall infection rate of 11.01% among 48,061 suspected people on April 28, against the country’s overall rate of 9.29% among 157,223 people who were tested for COVID-19 across the country.

Earlier, the provincial rate ranged from 10.83% to 11.39% during a period of April 21 to 27. On April 28, as many as 335 new people were detected infected by coronavirus after testing 4,112 tests across the province.

According to the health department data updated on April 28 at 8 am, 267 new cases were found in Karachi, taking the city’s tally of infected people to 3,791. New cases were also reported from Hyderabad (17), Jacobabad (10), Sukkur (7), Shikarpur (7), Tando Mohammad Khan (6), Shaheed Benazirabad (5), Larkana (5), Sanghar (5), Dadu (3), Tharparkar (2) and Naushehro Feroze (1). 

According to the health department, four COVID-19 patients died at Karachi, two females aged 66 and 24 years, respectively, and two males aged 69 and 56 years, receptively. Sukkur reported deaths of two men aged 66 and 56 years, respectively while Matiari, where for the first time two infected cases were reported on April 26, declared its first death due to coronavirus, a woman aged 66 years. 

In the meantime, another 38 people recovered from the disease, pushing the total number of people recovered to 963 in the province.

Australia eases lockdown restrictions

Pakistan News & Features Services

Australia, a paradise on earth, has reopened as the country has relaxed coronavirus restrictions after a drop in the death rate. The states of Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia have eased up the restrictions while New South Wales and Victoria, the two biggest states having enforced the strictest lockdown, don’t plan on lifting these measures until mid-May. 

Australia, into its second month of COVID-19 lockdowns with every state enforcing physical distancing law slightly differently, has witnessed consistently low numbers of new infections leading to the relaxation in a few rules. 

However, the Australians, for most part, are still required to stay at home unless they have crucial work, shopping or exercise reasons as the leaders reckoned that there was no fast and easy way to return to a ‘pre-coronavirus’ norm. 

The Western Australians now have been allowed the freedom to enjoy picnics in the park, fishing, boating, hiking and camping as they brought about changing rules of coronavirus lockdown. 

Western Australia and South Australia have also expanded the national two person limit on gatherings to 10 people but meet-ups still have to be for essential reasons like weddings which were previously restricted to five people. 

In states like Queensland, people can now go shopping again for fashion, have a picnic in the park or go for a swim at the beach. The residents can do all of these activities as long as it is within a 40 minute drive from home. The beaches were never closed but people can now lie on the sand in groups of 10 as long as they observe social distancing.

New Zealand announce elimination of COVID-19

Pakistan News & Features Services

New Zealand, one of the most disciplined nations on earth, has made the welcome announcement of having eliminated coronavirus (COVID-19) from the country as the restrictions have been eased from level four to level three with new cases down to single figures.

The level three ruling went into effect on April 28, which allowed businesses to partially reopen with some restrictions, including requiring physical distancing of two meters outside of home. 

New Zealand's Director General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, had declared on April 27 that with just one new case, four probable cases and one new death they had the confidence of having achieved their goal of elimination. 

"Our goal is elimination. And again, that doesn't mean eradication but it means we get down to a small number of cases so that we are able to stamp out any cases and any outbreak that might come out," he added. 

New Zealand's popular Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, however, warned that the country needed to remain alert even though coronavirus was currently eliminated. 

"So as we have said elimination means we may well reach zero but we may well then have small numbers of cases coming up again, that doesn't mean we have failed, it just means that we are in the position to have that zero tolerance approach to have a very aggressive management of those cases and keep those numbers low and fading out again," she remarked. 

"It's been nearly five weeks living and working in ways that just two months ago would have been impossible. But we did. And we have done it together," the Prime Minister observed while praising the efforts of New Zealanders.

PLISJ beats lockdown to arrive in time yet again

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Although the ongoing lockdown, being enforced to prevent coronavirus (COVID-19) from spreading, has brought life to a virtual standstill throughout the country, only a handful of organizations and institutions have managed to remain afloat in the prevailing situation. 

Quite remarkably, the Pakistan Library and Information Science Journal (PLISJ), a quarterly publication of the Library Promotion Bureau (LPB), Karachi, has succeeded in bringing out its April-June 2020 issue (Volume 51, Number 2) in time once more.

The PLISJ Chief Editor, Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari, who is also the Founder President of the LPB, has to be credited for accomplishing this gigantic task in the most challenging of situations.  
Having stayed back in Pakistan, instead of returning to North Amercia where he normally spent his summers, he has kept his associates motivated even during the lockdown period with his dossiers via email. 

A former chairperson of the University of Karachi’s Library and Information Science department, he has continued to be the motivation as well as the binding force in keeping the bureau alive, with the help of his able and trustworthy lieutenant, Prof Dr Nasim Fatima.

Lahore, Karachi worst affected by COVID-19

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Karachi, with 3,524 cases of COVID-19, on April 26 was second to Lahore in the context of the virus that has spread across the country, infecting 13,669 people so far (till April 27) and claiming 285 lives, according to a daily situation report compiled by an international health agency.

The report updated on April 27 at 9 am revealed that Lahore was on top of 10 districts with highest burden of COVID-19 confirmed cases in the country. 

Lahore reported the highest percentage of cases, with 23%, followed by Karachi (13%), Peshawar (6%), Rawalpindi (5%) and other districts. 

Karachi recorded its and country’s first confirmed case of coronavirus on April 26, while the first case of coronavirus was reported in Lahore on March 14. 

According to the record, since April 22 onwards the number of new coronavirus cases remained above 600 per day. 

It further reveled that there were 376 health workers infected with coronavirus in the country: Doctors-181 (48%), Paramedics and others 140 (37%) and nurses-55 (15%). As many as 132 health workers were hospitalized, while 152 were in home isolation and 87 have recovered from the diseases and five have died.

Chinese funded enterprises relief goods arrive Islamabad

By Masood Sattar Khan 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The China state-owned airlines plane carrying consignments of relief goods from China landed at Islamabad on the evening of April 26. 

The Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Yao Jing, attended the handing over ceremony of the Chinese-funded enterprises' anti-epidemic materials at the Islamabad International Airport.

Pakistan’s Energy Minister, Omar Ayub, Chairman of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Affairs Bureau, Asim Bajiwa, Wang Zhihua, Business Counsellor and heads of Chinese companies were present on the occasion, according to the Chinese Embassy sources. 

Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador Yao said that since the outbreak of the new coronary pneumonia epidemic in Pakistan, the Chinese government, enterprises and all sectors of the society have supported the Pakistani government and people in combating the pandemic through donations, materials and medical expert teams.

“China will continue to stand firmly with Pakistan and take more active measures to support Pakistan in responding to the epidemic,” he assured.

“It is believed that with the joint efforts of China and Pakistan, Pakistan will surely overcome the epidemic and the foundation of the community of shared destiny between China and Pakistan will be more solid,” the Ambassador hoped.  

Energy Minister, Omar Ayub, expressed his sincere gratitude to the Chinese government and enterprises for their generous assistance, saying that China has been very effective in fighting the new crown epidemic and is a model for the international community to learn. 

Pakistan too, he added, was trying to learn from China's experience and fight the epidemic with full might.