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Friday, May 17, 2024

COVID-19 cases steadily increasing in Pakistan; experts fear ‘tough time yet to come’

As the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the government to reopen shopping malls and markets across the country, the COVID-19 cases are steadily increasing. Experts fear that the tough time is yet to come which may disrupt the health system. How can you protect yourself at the time of the COVID-19 outbreak?

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr. Zafar Mirza on Friday warned that the Covid-19 cases could increase if the people did not practice the precautionary measures. Experts believe that as the lockdown has been lifted after the Supreme Court of Pakistan issued its directives, there is likely to be an increase in the cases.

Briefing the media, Dr. Mirza said that the country recorded 2,603 new coronavirus cases with 50 deaths during the last 24 hours which are the highest in a single day. The country also conducted the highest number of coronavirus tests during the last twenty-four hours, he said. Dr. Mirza recalled that the lockdown was eased in view of the difficulties of the poor people and the daily wagers.

Dr. Mirza appealed to the people to follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) agreed for the holy month of Ramzan in Eid prayers to stop Covid-19 cases. He said that the government had made it mandatory for the people to wear masks in any gathering or while using public transport. He added that this would help the people to keep themselves and others safe from the contagion.

The emergence of 2,603 new cases across the country takes the nation-wide tally to almost 50,700 cases. More than 1,000 people have died from the virus so far.

As for patients under treatment from Covid-19, there are about 11,561 patients in hospitals across the country out of which 372 are said to be in a critical condition.

Read More: After successfully containing COVID-19, Pakistan goes for smart lockdown

The number of coronavirus patients in Sindh have increased from 18,455, to 19,924. An estimated 18,455 cases have been reported from Punjab, 7,155 cases from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and 3,074 cases have emerged in Balochistan till date. Moreover, the number of coronavirus patients in Islamabad have increased to 1,326, 602 in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and 158 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

SC believes COVID-19 is not a pandemic in Pakistan

It is worth noting that the apex court not only ordered the reopening of shopping malls but also noted that Pakistan “is not … seriously affected” by Covid-19 and that there is no pandemic in the country. However, Pakistan has had at least 43,966 confirmed cases and more than 900 deaths since March, and the numbers keep rising. At least 500 Pakistani healthcare workers have been infected too, which shows that the country has been hit by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The federal government on Tuesday told the Supreme Court (SC) that citizens were not taking the Covid-19 threat seriously after the apex court’s remarks the other day, making it difficult for the administration to take measures to curb the viral outbreak. This could increase the Covid-19 cases.

Sindh Advocate General Salman Talibuddin endorsed the federal government’s opinion expressed by Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Javed Khan, saying the lockdown is no more effective as shops have been allowed to open.

Responding to AGP Khan and the Sindh AG, CJP Gulzar Ahmed said that this was not owing to the apex court’s remarks but because police inspectors were permitting businesses to reopen after receiving bribes. He further clarified that the apex court did not make any remarks against the Sindh government. “Even the provincial government is allowing government offices to reopen,” he added.

The five-judge bench in its order stated that although the AGP and AG-Sindh had requested the apex court to constitute a team of doctors to seek their opinion, the court for the time being did not find this essential as the government functionaries were alive and could do whatever they could in accordance with the law.

Read More: Why are Pakistanis violating SOPs in the time of COVID-19? A social scientist explains

Notably, experts in Pakistan have warned against the premature easing of lockdown restrictions, fearing an exponential rise in infections. One healthcare worker said: “Everyone’s scared and exhausted. But we are fighting, we are pushing the limits. All we ask is that the government and people understand that they can help us help them by staying at home and providing us quality protective gear.”