Pakistan’s COVID-19 cases topped 200,000, making it the 12th most affected country in the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
So far 4,098 fatalities have been recorded from the virus.
The country breached the grim milestone as the infection rate multiplied manifold over the past few weeks after the government eased lockdown restrictions last month, allowing big markets and shopping plazas to open.
The Pakistan Medical Association and other health organisations had warned the government against lifting restrictions and advised the authorities to reimpose complete lockdown in order to stem the spread of the virus.
However, “to maintain a balance between life and livelihood”, the government adopted the strategy of “smart lockdown” through which virus hotspots in 20 cities were sealed.
The World Health Organisation, on April 23, had warned Pakistan that if “effective measures” were not taken, the cases could surge to 200,000 in mid-July, however, the number was crossed 20 days earlier.
“Without effective interventions, there could be an estimated 200K+ cases by mid-July. The impacts on the economy could be devastating, doubling the number of people living in poverty,” Director-General WHO Dr Tedros Adhanom had said.
According to the latest government projections, coronavirus cases in the country may be limited to 225,000 by the end of June if people continue to take strict precautions — the number was earlier expected to reach 300,000.
Speaking to media on Friday, Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar said that when the number of COVID-19 cases surged, people started following preventive measures. “There were two weeks when the big hospitals in major cities faced pressure,” he said.
He, however, cautioned everyone that if the standard operating procedures are not followed then the situation can deteriorate.
Over 5,000 healthcare workers infected
According to official data, over 5,000 medical workers have contracted the virus in the country.
A total of 5,164 healthcare providers have been sickened by the virus across Pakistan, as of June 24, revealed the daily tally of the ministry of national health services, regulation and coordination, in Islamabad.
The majority of the infected medics have been reported from Pakistan’s northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, totaling 1,694.
The second-highest tally is from Sindh, 1,392, followed by Punjab, 1,099, Islamabad, 419, Balochistan, 391, Gilgit Baltistan, 95, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, 74.
Of the 5,164 professionals, over 3,000 are doctors.