Lawyers display placards as they march along a street during an anti-France demonstration in Islamabad. AFP
Pakistan on Monday banned public political rallies after recording its highest daily coronavirus infections since July for four days running.
Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the ban, fearing hospitals will be overwhelmed as they were in June if people do not act responsibly.
Imran has called upon all political parties to immediately halt gatherings and rallies across the country to stem the spread of second COVID-19 wave.
Shipping containers placed on a highway to stop supporters of a religious party in Islamabad. AP
“We have cancelled our Saturday’s rally and we have decided that any activity which does not affect the livelihood of people should be stopped immediately,” the premier said while addressing the media after a meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) in Islamabad on Monday.
Imran said his party has cancelled all political rallies across the country and “I will ask other parties to do the same.”
Imran also appealed the nation to strictly follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), including wearing of face masks and observing social distancing, to prevent spread of COVID-19.
Several huge religious and anti-government public rallies have been held in major cities in recent weeks.
There were 2,128 new cases registered on Sunday, the fourth day that the daily increase has been above 2,000.
More than 7% of people tested on Sunday were found to have contracted the virus, compared with between 2% and 3% during most of the last four months.
People help a man to lift his motorbike over a road divider after authorities blocked the Islamabad-Rawalpindi highway. AFP
After a peak of over 6,800 daily infections in June, the number fell to a low of 213 in August, and remained below 700 for most of the last three months.
"No one followed safety precautions and we are seeing the results," Dr Seemin Jamali, executive director of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre in Karachi, told Reuters. "It is high time people realise, or we will continue to suffer." The country has registered a total 359,032 coronavirus cases and 7,160 deaths.
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 UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) announced on Monday that it conducted 82,000 additional COVID-19 tests over the past 24 hours, using state-of-the-art medical testing equipment.
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