Covid-19: Pakistan's PM Imran Khan tests positive

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Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran KhanImage source, Reuters

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan has tested positive for Covid-19, the country's health minister has said.

The 68-year-old is "self-isolating at home", the minister, Faisal Sultan, tweeted.

Mr Khan, a former captain of the national cricket team who became prime minister in August 2018, received his first vaccination two days ago.

Pakistan has recorded 13,799 deaths and 623,135 cases during the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Vaccination helps develop immunity to the virus that causes Covid-19 but it usually takes a few weeks for protection to develop, and the person getting the jab remains vulnerable during that time.

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Can you become immune to coronavirus?

The prime minister has been attending regular meetings, including at a security conference in the capital Islamabad that was attended by a large number of people, Reuters news agency notes.

He addressed that conference without wearing a mask, and attended another gathering to inaugurate a housing project for poor people on Friday, the agency reports.

Imran Khan was tested for coronavirus after developing a "slight cough", according to one of his senior advisers, and he now has a mild fever.

He received his first dose of the Chinese-produced Sinopharm vaccine on Thursday. The former cricketing superstar is generally in good health, and his adviser described him as remaining "hale and hearty."

Vaccine hesitancy has been a major concern in Pakistan, and the prime minister's decision to broadcast footage of himself receiving the jab was praised as an attempt to encourage others to do the same. It seems certain Mr Khan had already been infected prior to the vaccination, but there are fears the episode will boost vaccine scepticism.

Partial lockdown restrictions have recently been reintroduced in parts of the country following a rise in cases.

Pakistan began vaccinations for the general public on 10 March, starting with elderly people.

Along with Sinopharm, the country has approved the CanSinoBio, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines for emergency use.