Confirmed Covid-19 cases cross grim 700,000 mark

102 new deaths raise toll to 15,026, data shows

ISLAMABAD: Struggling to contain a third wave of Covid-19, the country reported 4,004 new cases over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 700,188, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) said on Wednesday.

Sindh has been the worst hit with 267,238 cases followed by Punjab where 237,594 people have been tested positive, the NCOC said in a statement.

A total of 102 people died across the country during the last 24 hours, raising the death toll to 15,026, the official statement said, adding that 4,529 patients are being treated in hospitals across Pakistan.

Urging the people to strictly follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) to stop the spread of the virus, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the third wave of Covid-19 is extremely dangerous in comparison to the previous two waves.

“We have so far been protecting our people. We are not imposing a complete lockdown or closing our factories. We are only imposing minor restrictions so that this wave does not spread rapidly,” he said in a recent telethon. “But if this spreads, it will have a very negative impact and we will be forced to take steps.”

To counter the deadly third wave, the authorities have recently taken several measures by banning all kinds of both indoor and outdoor mass gatherings, closing educational institutions in some areas of the country, and suspending inter-provincial transport two days a week from April 10 to 25.

Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, who also heads the NCOC, said on Tuesday that increased restrictions, broader lockdowns, and strong enforcement of standard operating procedures (SOPs) have started to show give dividends.

The rising trend of positivity rate has been flattened, but the number of critical patients and mortality will stay at high levels for some time due to the momentum of the last two weeks, Asad said.

Meanwhile, the country’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign is in full swing, with authorities urging eligible citizens to get themselves vaccinated against the disease.

So far, more than 1 million people have been vaccinated, and the total number of people who have registered themselves for vaccination is now over 2 million, according to Asad.

Private hospitals in major cities have also started inoculation with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine imported by a private pharmaceutical company.

Health experts believe that the variant of Covid-19 initially discovered in the United Kingdom has been behind the surge in the number of infections in the country.

“The new variant seemed to be more contagious and deadly, and the only way we can control it is to shut all kinds of activities that may play role in the spread of the disease,” Ejaz Ahmad Khan, an infectious disease specialist at the Shifa International Hospital in Islamabad, told Xinhua.

He said that the government is trying hard to control the situation, but the cooperation of the Pakistani people is also very important. “Solely, the government cannot take control of this fatal disease without our help.”

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