The nationwide tally of Covid-19 patients jumped to 53,517 on Saturday, with 18,730 cases reported in Punjab, 21,645 in Sindh, 7,685 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 3,198 in Balochistan, 607 in Gilgit Baltistan, 1,457 in Islamabad and 195 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The virus has claimed at least 1,123 lives while some 16,851 coronavirus patients have recovered so far. The Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department of Punjab confirmed 14 more casualties due to coronavirus in the past 24 hours to bring the provincial death toll to 324. It also reported 275 new cases to raise the province’s tally of Covid-19 patients to 18,730. Punjab Health Department confirmed that the provincial Minister for Energy Dr Akhtar Malik has tested positive for Covid-19. “Dr Akhtar Malik has self-isolated himself after found positive of coronavirus,” a spokesperson of Punjab health department said in a statement. It is to be mentioned here that a number of politicians in government and opposition have contracted coronavirus disease and some of them have recovered to health. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) member of Punjab Assembly Shaheen Raza, however, lost her life to deadly virus after being infected by the disease. The Punjab health department has decided to grant Eid holidays to staff working at labs carrying out coronavirus testing in order to give them ‘much-needed rest’, according to Azhar Mashwani, the focal person on digital media to the Punjab chief minister.The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Department, in its daily situational report, confirmed eight more casualties due to coronavirus in the past 24 hours to bring the provincial death toll to 389. Two deaths were reported from Peshawar, and one each in Swabi, Swat, Buner, Abbottabad, Haripur and Kohat. At least 294 new cases – 64 from Torkham and 34 from Int’l flights center – were also reported, taking the total to 7,685. As many as 99 more patients recuperated, taking the total number of recoveries to 2,396 in the province. Spokesperson for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ajmal Wazir said that Pakistan’s health system did not choke while combating the coronavirus, unlike those of other much more developed countries. “I can say this with pride, that while the health systems of countries much better than ours choked, ours did not,” he said. “We have tried to provide PPEs to health and relief workers on war footing. This is a difficult time and we don’t know how long things will stay this way. The KP government has worked with spirit, we have been on the front line and we will continue to fight for the protection of people,” he added.Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah Saturday said 762 cases of Covid-19 have emerged in the province whereas 14 more patients passed away in the last 24 hours. He added that 155 patients are in critical condition while 198 have recovered. Sindh’s coronavirus cases have topped 21,000, the chief minister said, adding that 4,336 tests were conducted, out of which 762 came back positive, taking the provincial total to 21,645. Sindh Minister Ghulam Murtaza Baloch has been shifted to ICU of a private hospital after his health worsened due to coronavirus. Baloch had tested positive for coronavirus a few days earlier. The national database for coronavirus shows that 1,452 more people have recovered from the virus in the country. The total number of recoveries now stands at 16,653. The novel coronavirus emerged in the central China city of Wuhan towards the end of last year and proliferated to almost the whole world within a couple of months. The virus has so far infected more than 5.1 million people in 202 countries and territories of the world – and over 335,000 of them have died and counting.