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Covid-19 in Pakistan: Virus yet to be defeated despite decreasing infections, experts warn

Hospitals paint a positive picture, but violations of SOPs continue despite repeated government warnings
by TR Pakistan

The numbers: The total number of coronavirus cases in Pakistan stands at 259,999 with 5,475 deaths. Sindh maintains its status as the worst affected province in the country with 110,068 cases whereas Punjab is second at 89,023 cases. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have reported 31,486 and 11,385 cases respectively, whereas the tally of cases reported in Islamabad has reached 14,454. The number of cases reported in Azad Jammu & Kashmir is 1,808 and Gilgit Baltistan has reported 1,775 cases.

Reduction in infections: Pakistan has observed an overall reduction in cases, reporting lower numbers of new coronavirus infections per day. In Punjab, a 50% decline in the number of cases has been recorded. With the number falling, the occupancy of hospital beds is also decreasing. In government hospitals, the occupancy of high dependency beds is only 19.8%. However, experts continue to underline that it is too early to say that covid-19 has been defeated in Pakistan.

Cattle markets: The National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) issued guidelines for the establishment of cattle markets, which shall only operate from 6 am to 7 pm in anticipation of Eid-Ul-Azha. Federal Minister for Planning and NCOC chief Asad Umar said that approximately 700 cattle markets have been set up across the country; however, the number of people visiting these markets will be controlled in order to contain the spread of coronavirus. None of these cattle markets have been allowed to set up inside the cities.

SOPs: The NCOC also issued guidelines to contain the potential spread of the virus during Eid-ul-Azha, such as maintaining social distance, Eid prayers, and slaughtering of animals, etc. There should be minimal traveling during Eid holidays, especially for social visits whereas the online sale of cattle has been encouraged. The sick, elderly, and children under the ages of 15 have been discouraged from attending the Eid prayers at mosques while greetings should be received without shaking hands or hugging.

Violations: As the number of infections rise and fall, the violations in SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), issued by the government, continue. The authorities fined 1,231 transport vehicles and sealed 441 shops and markets due to violations of SOPs. Among the total, 2,845 violations were reported in the province of Punjab, 586 in Balochistan, 551 in Sindh, 2,227 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and 48 in Islamabad.

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