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Pakistan Claims Success in Curbing COVID-19 Spread

by Newsweek Pakistan

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In press briefing, planning minister suggests coronavirus infections have dropped everywhere in Pakistan except Sindh

Pakistan has witnessed a noticeable decline in new infections of the novel coronavirus since implementing a “smart lockdown” and adopting preventative measures, Planning Minister Asad Umar claimed on Friday, adding that the number of daily deaths, patients admitted to hospital and patients on ventilators had all gone down.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Umar credited the recent decline—which has been accompanied by nationwide reduction in testing against the advice of the World Health Organization—to citizens adopting precautionary measures, adding that if this continued, so would the country’s overall situation.

“However, there is one area where we are not seeing much improvement, which is in Sindh, especially Karachi,” he said, adding that the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) had discussed the situation with the provincial chief secretary and health minister. “We want to figure out how to replicate the results from the rest of the country in Sindh,” he said.

The planning minister cautioned citizens against assuming that the decline meant the threat had been eradicated. “Don’t take this to mean that the pandemic is going away on its own and you can do whatever you want,” he warned, adding that any lapse in standard operating procedures introduced to curb the spread of COVID-19 risked the numbers climbing once more.

“I had earlier warned that our cases could reach 1.2 million by end of July if we don’t take follow preventive measures. But because people are following the SOPs and the administration is also taking action against violators, this number could now be less than 400,000,” he said.

Applauding the work done by the Islamabad administration, the planning minister said that the federal capital had reported only 113 new infections of the virus in the past 24 hours against more than 700 prior to the implementation of the “smart lockdown.”

Umar’s concerns about Sindh have been met with some criticism from health experts who say the reason for cases there not declining is that the province has been testing more than any other province for over a week. Despite boasting testing capacity of more than 15,000, Punjab has not conducted more than 8,500 tests since June 23.

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