COVID-19 pandemic in Pakistan

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The COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed to have reached Pakistan on 26 February 2020, when a student in Karachi tested positive upon returning from Iran. By 18 March, cases had been registered in all four provinces, the two autonomous territories, and the federal territory of Islamabad.

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  • The Pakistani government does not seem willing to shift its spending priorities despite the burgeoning COVID-19 challenges. Pakistan has emerged as one of the countries with the fastest rate of coronavirus infections in recent weeks, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The country reported its first coronavirus case on February 26 and is now among the top 15 most-affected countries. More than 4,000 people have lost their lives to the disease in Pakistan since the beginning of the outbreak. Moreover, there is a significant shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators in the country. Despite all this, Islamabad allocated $7.85bn for defence and merely $151m for health in the budget for the financial year 2020-2021. This represents a 12 percent rise in Pakistan's defence spending compared with the last financial year. The single-line figure presented in the budget does not give a full picture of the amount actually being spent on defence either.

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