Pakistan's President Arif Alvi tests positive for COVID-19 days after PM, defense min

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Pakistan's President Arif Alvi said on Monday he tested positive for coronavirus, days after Prime Minister Imran Khan tested positive for COVID-19.

"My COVID-19 test is positive. May Allah have mercy on the people affected by the coronavirus. I took the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, but the antibodies begin to form after the second dose. Please continue to be careful," he said on Twitter.

Alvi took his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on March 15 and was due to take his second dose in a week.

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The President's announcement came nine days after PM Imran Khan and his wife tested positive for COVID-19. Khan had also taken his first dose of the vaccine.

Imran Ismail, provincial governor in southern Sindh province, said the country’s defense minister, Pervez Khattak, had also tested positive for coronavirus.

Pakistani authorities urged the public to not link officials testing positive for the virus with vaccine efficacy, amid widespread vaccine hesitancy in a country of 220 million people.

Vaccine hesitancy is common in Pakistan, which is one of two countries in the world where polio remains endemic due to widespread conspiracies against inoculation.

Pakistan is in the midst of a third wave of coronavirus, which authorities say is worse than last year’s outbreak when Pakistan had to impose a nationwide lockdown. Pakistan so far has avoided a nationwide lockdown but it imposed a partial lowdown in several cities to contain the spread of the virus.

On Monday, Pakistan reported 41 additional deaths and more than 4,500 new cases in the past 24 hours. Pakistan has reported more than 659,000 cases total, including 14,256 deaths, since last year.

- With The Associated Press, Reuters

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