Pakistan easing restrictions as coronavirus cases drop

The Pakistani government credits the consistently low numbers for the last few weeks to a strategy of smart lockdowns. (AFP)
Updated 07 August 2020

Pakistan easing restrictions as coronavirus cases drop

  • Government credits consistently low numbers for the last few weeks to a strategy of smart lockdowns
  • Since the pandemic hit, Pakistan’s poverty rate has increased from 30 percent to 40 percent

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s daily infection rate has stayed under 1,000 for more than three weeks, occasionally dropping to 300 and prompting the government to further ease restrictions with restaurants, parks and even gyms opening next week.
On Friday, Pakistan recorded 782 new cases in the last 24 hours and just 17 deaths. In all, Pakistan has reported 282,642 confirmed cases and 6,052 deaths.
The government credits the consistently low numbers for the last few weeks to a strategy of smart lockdowns, where businesses and residential areas were shut and quarantined after recording spikes in cases.
Prime Minister Imran Khan defied his critics to ease lockdowns early on saying he needed to open sectors like the construction industry to provide jobs to the country’s poorest. Since the pandemic hit, Pakistan’s poverty rate has increased from 30 percent to 40 percent of the country’s 220 million people.

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UK science advisers warn public on COVID-19 rates

Updated 21 September 2020

UK science advisers warn public on COVID-19 rates

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson huddled with ministers over the weekend to discuss how the government will respond to the recent rise in cases
  • The UK reported a seven-day average of 21 deaths a day last week

LONDON: Britain’s top medical adviser says the country has, in a “very bad sense,” turned a corner on COVID-19 infection rates, with figures suggesting there will be an exponential growth in the disease unless action is taken.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty told the public on Monday that rates are going in the “wrong direction” amid expectations the government is preparing to announce new measures to control the pandemic.
“We have in a very bad sense, literally turned a corner,” after weeks of increasing infection rates.
Whitty said that if nothing is done, new infections will rise to 49,000 a day by mid-October. Hospitalizations are also doubling in seven to eight days — leading to more deaths.
There was also no indication that the virus had lessened in severity, he said. “We see no evidence that this is true.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson huddled with ministers over the weekend to discuss how the government will respond to the recent rise in cases, which has pushed infection rates to levels last seen in May. Later this week the government is expected to announce a slate of short-term restrictions that will act as a “circuit breaker” to slow the spread of the disease.
The government is hoping to keep that number from climbing back to the peak levels of early April, when more than 5,000 cases a day were being reported.
While death rates have remained relatively low so far, public health officials warn that deaths are likely to rise in coming weeks.
The UK reported a seven-day average of 21 deaths a day last week, compared with a peak of 942 on April 10.
The government last week imposed tighter restrictions on communities in northeastern England, where the infection rate first began to rise. Bars and restaurants in those areas must now close between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and people are prohibited from socializing with individuals from other households.
The rise in infection rates comes as lawmakers across the political spectrum criticize the government’s testing program. While government ministers tout the record numbers of tests being performed, there are widespread reports of people having to travel hundreds of miles for tests and tests being voided because it is taking labs too long to process them.
An effective testing program is seen as essential to controlling the pandemic because it allows the government to track infections and inform people when they should self-isolate.