Islamabad, Mar 20 (PTI) Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi were tested positive on Saturday for the COVID-19, his top aides announced, two days after the Pakistani premier got the first shot of a vaccine.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Dr Faisal Sultan took to Twitter to confirm that Khan, 68, has contracted the coronavirus on a day when the country registered the highest number of COVID-19 cases since July last year.
Later, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis, Syed Zulfi Bukhari in a tweet confirmed that the First Lady was also corona positive. “Wishing our First Lady & PM @ImranKhanPTI a speedy recovery,” he tweeted.
Senator Faisal Javed, who is considered very close to Khan, also expressed similar sentiments in a tweet.
'First Lady Bushra Bibi has also been tested positive for Covid-19. Lots of prayers for all who have been tested positive including PM Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi!!!” he said.
Khan was vaccinated on Thursday as part of the nationwide anti-coronavirus vaccination campaign which is underway in its first phase.
Khan is reported to have received the first shot of the Chinese-produced Sinopharm vaccine, the only anti-COVID jab available in Pakistan.
“PM Imran Khan has tested positive for Covid-19 and is self isolating at home,” Sultan said in a tweet.
Khan’s spokesman Dr Shehbaz Gill said that the prime minister has just a slight fever and cough.
The report of Khan contracting the coronavirus came on a day the country reported 3,876 cases in the past 24 hours, the highest number since July last year. On July 2 last year, 4,432 cases were reported.
Pakistan started its COVID-19 vaccination drive in February after the first arrival of China-gifted vaccine doses, with frontline health workers given the priority for inoculation, while on March 10, the country started vaccination for the general public, starting with people aged 60 and above, Geo News reported.
Issuing a clarification on Khan’s vaccination, the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination said that antibodies develop two to three weeks after the 2nd dose of the 2-dose COVID-19 vaccines.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan was not fully vaccinated when he contracted the virus. He only got the 1st dose and merely 2 days ago which is too soon for ANY vaccine to become effective. Anti-bodies develop 2-3 weeks after the 2nd dose of COVID vaccines,” it said on Twitter.
Minister for Planning Asad Umar also said it was 'certain' that the prime minister was infected prior to vaccination as COVID-19 symptoms appear a few days after exposure to the virus.
“Some people are questioning the efficacy of vaccination since he (Khan) was vaccinated Thursday evening. The symptoms take a few days before manifesting. Hence it is certain that the PM had been infected PRIOR to vaccination. So please do vaccinate,” he tweeted.
On Sunday, Khan was scheduled to interact with the public via telephone calls. However, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senator Javed said that a new time and date will be announced soon. He added that Khan was experiencing 'mild symptoms' and will continue to work from home over video conferencing.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended his best wishes to his Pakistani counterpart for a speedy recovery from COVID-19.
Modi tweeted his wishes to Khan, 'Best wishes to Prime Minister @ImranKhanPTI for a speedy recovery from COVID-19.' The US embassy here also wished Khan a speedy recovery. 'Our thoughts are with him and his family,” it said. Other embassies, including that of the UK, France, Germany and Australia, also extended their best wishes to Khan for a speedy recovery.
Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong said: 'My best wishes for speedy and complete recovery of Prime Minister of Pakistan.' Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also wished the prime minister a speedy recovery.
Khan had been active until Friday when he visited Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and inaugurated a highway and an academic block of a university.
He urged the citizens to ensure the full implementation of norms to prevent the surge in cases of coronavirus.
Pakistan officials last week said that the country was hit by the third wave of the pandemic.
According to the Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker, Pakistan has so far reported 623,135 cases and 13,799 deaths.
In July last year, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was treated for the coronavirus.
Last year, several Pakistani lawmakers contracted the coronavirus, with prominent among them being Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) leader and Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunications Syed Aminul Haq, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb, Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.
Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, PTI Member of the National Assembly (MNA) Jai Prakash, Minister of State for Narcotics Shehryar Afridi and PTI's chief whip in the National Assembly Aamir Dogar had also been diagnosed with COVID-19 last year.
In June, MNA Munir Khan Orakzai died, days after recovering from the coronavirus.
National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser was also infected but recovered.
Eight members of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly had also been infected with the coronavirus. PTI SH CPS SCY AKJ SCY