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Pakistan’s Coronavirus Cases Continue to Rise

by Newsweek Pakistan

Authorities report 58 people have fully recovered, while there have been 25 deaths

The number of people who have died from the novel coronavirus in Pakistan rose by seven on Tuesday, raising the overall toll to 25, as authorities reported that thus far 58 people have fully recovered from the virus nationwide.

Early on Tuesday, the Sindh Health Department reported that 61 more people had tested positive for the virus, raising the earlier provincial tally of 566. Sindh Health Minister Azra Pechuho said that all the new cases were from local spread and none of them had any international travel history.

Of the 61 new cases, 45 were reported from Karachi, 14 at a religious gathering in Hyderabad, and two at Jamshoro.

Confirmed Cases, Total – 1,865

Punjab – 652

Sindh – 627

Balochistan – 153

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa – 221

Islamabad – 58

Gilgit-Baltistan – 148

Pakistan-administered Kashmir – 6

Deaths – 25

Recoveries – 57

In Punjab, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on Monday night said that the number of confirmed cases had risen to 651. “Sadly, we have lost 3 more lives to COVID-19 today, 2 in Rawalpindi and 1 in Lahore,” he posted on Twitter a little past midnight. Buzdar said the provincial government had started to seal areas where the reported cases had crossed “set limit” and was implementing movement restrictions very strictly.

Of the current cases, he said Lahore had 128, Multan 89, and Rawalpindi 40. The National Institute of Health later revised that tally upwards by one, raising the provincial count to 652.

In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Health Minister Taimur Jhagra said the provincial tally had hit 221 on Monday night. Similarly, Balochistan reported 10 new cases on Tuesday morning. The provincial government’s spokesperson, Liaquat Shahwani, posted on Twitter that 138 of the provincial total of 153 were from pilgrims returning from Iran, while 15 were cases of local spread.

According to the National Institute of Health, Pakistan has conducted 14,658 COVID-19 tests so far—a low number considering the country’s population of 220 million. Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman, chairman of P.M. Imran Khan’s Task Force on Technology Driven Knowledge Economy has said that Pakistan must aggressively ramp up testing or the situation will get much worse before it gets better.

Meanwhile, the number of cases linked to local transmission is now on the rise, proving the need for social distancing and phased lockdowns to ensure the virus does not spread, especially through asymptomatic carriers.

On Monday, P.M. Khan once again expressed reservations about lockdowns, equating them to curfews, and claiming Pakistan is too poor to sustain such initiatives. Instead, he urged people to donate to a government-run fund that would provide relief to those affected by the coronavirus.

Most parts of Pakistan continue to be under lockdown despite P.M. Khan’s criticisms. The Sindh government has implemented the most rigid restrictions, barring all nonessential movement. Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have all followed, however, closing public and private offices and banning all public and private gatherings to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Congregational prayers have also been banned in Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Globally, the virus has now infected more than 782,700 people, with over 37,600 reported deaths. Per some reports, nearly a third of the global population is now living under coronavirus-related movement restrictions. The U.S. now has more confirmed cases than any other country in the world, with 3,000 deaths and more than 163,000 patients.

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