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Pakistan PM Imran Khan tests negative for Covid-19 test: Aide

Hindustan Times, Islamabad | ByImtiaz Ahmad
Apr 22, 2020 11:06 PM IST

The decision to test PM Imran Khan was made according to a standard operating procedure (SOP), which states that every contact of a confirmed Covid-19 case should undergo a test, officials said.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has tested negative for the Coronavirus, one of his aides said on Wednesday, days after the premier came in contact with a civil society activist who had tested positive for Covid-19.

There was some confusion earlier in the day after Samaa TV news channel reported that Khan underwent a test for Covid-19 on Tuesday, whereas the premier’s focal person for the Covid-19 crisis, Faisal Sultan, clarified that his sample had been collected for testing on Wednesday.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan was tested today for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus strain that causes coronavirus disease 2019 [COVID-19]). The test used was a polymerase chain reaction (PCR). I am happy to report that his test is NEGATIVE,” Firdous Ashiq Awan, special advisor to the prime minister for information and broadcasting, tweeted late on Wednesday.

Earlier, Sultan issued a brief video message that said only the sample had been collected. “The test takes a few hours. We will release the report through official channels once it is received,” he said.

The decision to test Khan was made according to a standard operating procedure (SOP) that states every contact of a confirmed Covid-19 case should undergo a test, officials said.

The news about the test for the prime minister came on the day that the number of Covid-19 cases in Pakistan crossed the 10,000 mark. The country has also recorded 212 deaths while 2,156 people have recovered.

On Tuesday, it emerged that Faisal Edhi, the son of late philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi, had tested positive for the novel Coronavirus. Faisal Edhi met Khan on April 15 to hand over a cheque for Rs10 million for the premier’s coronavirus relief fund.

Saad Edhi, the son of Faisal Edhi, told Dawn newspaper that his father began showing symptoms last week, soon after meeting Khan in Islamabad. “The symptoms lasted for four days before subsiding,” Saad said. He added his father was currently in Islamabad and doing better.

Faisal Edhi’s test was conducted at Al-Shifa Hospital in Islamabad last week. A spokesperson for the Edhi Foundation, Muhammad Bilal, told the media that Faisal Edhi had gone into self-isolation.

However, Khan faced considerable criticism, mostly on social media, for continuing to hold meetings and for not going into self-isolation after it became known that Edhi had tested positive. He was also criticised for his government’s decision to allow prayers at mosques, especially during the holy month of Ramzan.

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