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Pakistan: Top court questions state's COVID-19 strategy

5-judge bench led by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed to hear case on April 13

Aamir Latif  | 10.04.2020 - Update : 10.04.2020
Pakistan: Top court questions state's COVID-19 strategy

KARACHI, Pakistan 

Pakistan's Supreme Court on Friday took an act on its own -- a suo moto in legal terms -- over the government's strategy to curb the fast-rising coronavirus cases in the country, court record, and local media reported.

A five-judge bench of the top court headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed will start the hearing of the suo moto from April 13 in the capital Islamabad, local broadcaster Dunya News reported.

This is the first ever suo moto taken by Justice Ahmed since he took oath as the chief justice last December.

The judges summoned the attorney general, and the federal secretaries for home, and health affairs seeking explanation on the government's strategy, and ongoing efforts to tackle the COVID-19 or coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Last week, the chief justice expressed his displeasure over the government's strategy, particularly closure of outdoor patients facilities at all the public sector hospitals to ward off the virus spread.

In a related development, the Sindh High Court in the port city of Karachi dismissed a petition seeking lifting of ban on Friday prayers.

The judges declared that the ban had been imposed after consulting the religious scholars, and in line with a similar action taken by almost all the Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia.

The number of coronavirus cases has reached 4,688, of which almost 50% reported from northeastern Punjab, the country's most populous province. Some 68 people, including three doctors have died from coronavirus, whereas 727 patients have recovered, according to the Health Ministry statistics.

The country has been under a weeks-long lockdown with all the educational institutes, shopping centers, markets, and the government offices, except for emergency services, remain closed.

Since appearing in Wuhan, China, last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 185 countries and regions.

Data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University shows worldwide infections surpassed 1.61 million, with the death toll above 96,700, while more than 361,300 people have recovered so far.

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