The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Tariq Butt / Agencies
The number of coronavirus cases and fatalities continues to go down in Pakistan as the country reported eight more deaths in the last 24 hours.
According to the latest figures released on Monday by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), 330 confirmed COVID-19 cases diagnosed in 24 hours and eight more deaths were reported due to the virus.
Amid continued fall in COVID-19 cases, the Punjab government, the second worst-hit in the country to the virus pandemic, has lifted a lockdown, which was imposed till Aug.5 across the province ahead of Eid Al Adha in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus.
The number of active coronavirus cases in the country stands at 25,172. The nationwide tally of fatalities has jumped to 5,984, according to the NCOC.
Meanwhile, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal says due to prudent measures taken by the government the situation of COVID-19 improved and the number of deaths have become lowest.
Talking to media in Islamabad, he urged the citizens to adherence to standard operating procedure for containing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday appointed Dr Faisal Sultan as the new Special Adviser to Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination with immediate effect.
A notification issued to this effect from the prime minister’s office maintained that Dr Sultan will hold the status of a federal minister.
He has been serving as the Prime Minister’s Focal Person on COVID-19, and is also the CEO of Shaukat Khanum Memorial and Cancer Hospital.
In a notification, the Punjab health department said all business except those which fall in “negative list” will be allowed to operate from 9am to 7pm from Monday to Friday. The new directives became effective from Monday.
However, all the educational and training institutions, marriage halls, business centres, Expo Halls, restaurants except takeaways and home delivery, theme/amusement parks, play areas and arcades, beauty parlours and spas, cinemas and theatres will remain closed.
The notification said that there will be a complete ban on sporting tournaments/matches, indoor and outdoor, except non-contract professional sports without spectators. All contract sports and indoor sports clubs/facilities will remain closed.
It said that the all business, factories, premises, retail shops, shopping malls and plazas except those placed on the negative list have been allowed to operate subject to adoption of standard operating procedures (SOPs)/guidelines from Monday to Friday. There will be complete lockdown on Saturdays and Sundays.
Meanwhile, the government has restored the normal office timings that prevailed before the coronavirus strut Pakistan. It is hugely encouraged by the drastic decline in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths across Pakistan. It had warned people to observe the guidelines during the Eid Al Adha holidays.
The government of Balochistan announced on Monday its decision to extend the smart lockdown imposed in the province till Aug.17.
In a notification, the provincial government said the threat of coronavirus still exists. During the lockdown, all shopping malls, markets and shops will be allowed to remain open from 9am to 7pm from Saturday to Thursday.
Pakistan, where coronavirus was spreading out of control some two months ago, has dramatically reversed course, recording a sharp decline in COVID-19 cases and deaths, which are both down more than 80 per cent from their peaks.
A prominent American newspaper Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Sunday, that major hospitals report beds are freeing up in previously overflowing coronavirus wards, even in Pakistan’s biggest and hardest-hit city, Karachi.
It is said that the tally of patients on ventilators has halved over the past month. This is all happening as Pakistan’s neighbours to the east and west India and Iran are still reporting that infection rates are climbing steadily.
Even more surprising, it said, the progress in Pakistan came after Prime Minister Imran Khan resisted advice from the World Health Organisation, declaring in May that lockdowns are too costly for the poor and reopening the economy.
Six months after the coronavirus arrived in Pakistan, the country appears to have dodged the worst of the pandemic, baffling health experts and dampening fears its crowded urban areas and ramshackle hospitals will be overrun.
The sealing of high-risk area comes as Pakistan reported 6,472 news cases on Saturday, the country's highest single-day total. Pakistan has confirmed a total of 132,405 cases, including 2,551 deaths.
The surge in deaths and number of corona patients also indicate the looming danger, said a research done by Geo News, which is based on experts’ comments and analysis of data collected from four big cities of the country.
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