Pakistan sees highest spike in infections with more than 1,700 new coronavirus cases

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The day Prime Minister Imran Khan announced to ease lockdown restrictions in the country, 1,764 new cases were recorded with 35 fatalities, according to an update by the central authority tracking the spread of the virus.

This was the highest jump recorded in a single day.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country has soared to 25,837 after the new infections.

Of these, 9,093 were reported in Sindh, 10,033 in Punjab, 3,956 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 1,725 in Balochistan, 558 in Islamabad, 394 in Gilgit-Baltistan, and 78 in Azad Kashmir.

Meanwhile, 1,066 patients also recovered from the virus the same day, taking the total number of recoveries in the country to 7,530.

Ease in lockdown restrictions

PM Imran had on Thursday said the government has decided to ease the lockdown in Pakistan given the impact it has had on the economy.

Speaking after a meeting of National Coordination Committee (NCC), which is the apex coronavirus decision-making body and comprises top civil and military leaders, including the provincial chief executives, PM Imran said the country would be opened “in a phased manner from Saturday”.

“It is now the responsibility of the masses to follow the rules; otherwise, we will be forced to reverse the decision. I was in favour of allowing public transport but the provinces did not agree to it.

“It has therefore been decided that the provinces will make their own standard operating procedures (SOPs) and share [them] with the Centre.”

‘Still unsure’ when coronavirus cases will peak

The prime minister said the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) — headed by Planning Minister Asad Umar — meets daily to analyse the current situation and take input from the provinces as well.

It consults with doctors and experts before making decisions, the premier said.

“We are still not sure when the coronavirus peak will come — in one or two months — but we have to open our industries as daily wagers and labourers are suffering due to the lockdown and closure of businesses.”

Pakistan’s health situation, he added, was better as compared to other European and rich nations. Meanwhile, tax collection had already gone down 35%, he noted.

“We have to strike a balance between curbing the virus and fighting hunger in the country,” he added.