A health official in protective gear holds a sample collected from a man at a screening centre in Peshawar, Pakistan. AP
Pakistan reported 97 more coronavirus deaths on Saturday, the highest 24-hour increase to its fatalities, as authorities urged volunteers to motivate people to adhere to social distancing regulations to contain the spread of the virus.
According to Usman Dar, who heads the "Corona Relief Tiger Force,” about 1 million volunteers have signed up recently in response to the government’s call to help the country’s most vulnerable people during the coronavirus outbreak.
He told reporters that 165,348 volunteers are currently assisting authorities to contain the spread of the virus.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the volunteers will also be used to deliver food and medicine to needy and poor people if needed.
Pakistan also reported 4,734 new virus cases, raising its overall infections to 93,983.
With the latest 97 virus-related deaths, Pakistan’s overall fatalities have jumped to 1,935.
India surpassed Italy as the sixth worst-hit by the coronavirus pandemic after another biggest single-day spike in confirmed infections.
The Health Ministry reported 9,887 new cases on Saturday, bringing the total to 236,657.
Most of the new cases are in rural areas following the return of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who left cities and towns after the lockdown in late March.
The lockdown is now largely being enforced in high-risk areas while authorities have partially restored train services and domestic flights and allowed shops and manufacturing to reopen. Shopping malls and religious places are due to open on Monday with restrictions to avoid large gatherings.
Pakistan is also pushing toward 100,000 confirmed infections as Prime Minister Imran Khan warned the country's 220 million people in televised speeches that they are going to have to learn to live with the virus.
Further complicating the dilemma, as the government pins its main hope for stemming the virus’ rampage on social distancing and masks, many in the public ignore calls to use them.
The country reported 467 new deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the toll to 20,160. It also recorded 22,252 new infections, increasing the total to 719,665.
India’s COVID-19 fatalities have passed 6,000 after registering 260 deaths in the last 24 hours. Pakistan's outbreak has grown steadily since the country's first case in February. Since then, 1,770 people have died and 85,264 have tested positive.
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