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Covid transmission rate surges to one-month high, stoking fears of a fourth wave

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Saturday registered over 1,980 new infections, highest daily increase in coronavirus infections since May 30, and up from 830 reported on July 5, the Ministry of National Health Services said Sunday.

A National Command and Operation Centre update said the contagion rate rose to 4.09 percent in the last 24 hours. The body had recorded the rate at 4.05 percent on May 30.

It further said 27 people died of the pandemic in the last 24 hours — taking the toll to 22,582 pandemic-related deaths. Of the dead, 16 were on ventilators.

The total caseload and recoveries stood at 973,284 and 913,203, respectively, the update announced.

The number of active cases has risen to 37,499 who are under treatment across the country, including 2,119 critical patients.

Punjab is the most affected province with 348,085 infections and 10,819 deaths, followed by Sindh which has reported 346,360 cases and 5,599 deaths so far. Sindh has 23,350 active cases while Punjab has 8,499 active cases.

Pakistan has witnessed a sudden rise in daily cases in recent days. The number of daily cases dropped from four digits to three digits on June 25. The daily infections being reported remained close to 900 until June 27 and further fell to 735 on June 28.

Then the number of cases gradually started increasing and doubled in just one week. The positivity rate, which stood at less than 2 percent in June, crossed 3 percent after a gap of 20 days.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan urged the nation to follow safety precautions, terming the Delta variant of the virus, which was first identified in India, “the biggest concern.”

“After a downslide, infections are on a rise again. We fear that the Delta variant could strike Pakistan,” he said in a recent video message broadcast on television. “I appeal to the nation to wear masks, and take protective measures.” The premier also urged the masses to get themselves vaccinated.

With 422,743 vaccine doses administered in the last 24 hours, at least 15.32 million people in the South Asian country have received their first doses of a Covid vaccine, while 3.74 million are fully vaccinated.

Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, who also heads the anti-pandemic task force, said on Friday that “there are clear early signs of 4th wave.” In a tweet, he attributed the rise in cases to poor compliance of health guidelines, coupled with the spread of variants of concern.

“Field reports are showing complete disregard of the condition of vaccination for those attending indoor weddings and going to indoor restaurants [and] gyms. If the owners of these facilities do not show responsibility [and] ensure compliance, there will be no choice but to shut them down,” he added.


Meanwhile, the district administration of Lahore sealed multiple restaurants and businesses over violation of guidelines.

Model Town Assistant Commissioner Ibrahim Arbab, while reviewing the compliance, found violations of guidelines.

City Assistant Commissioner Faizan Ahmed Riaz also reviewed the compliance in markets, a press statement said.

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