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WHO calls for more lockdowns in Pakistan as infections surge
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 10 - 06 - 2020

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called on Pakistan to order more stricter lockdowns as coronavirus cases surged in the country.
With over 114,000 cases, Pakistan has becoming the second largest most corona-infected nation in Asia with 2,255 deaths. As many as 105 infected persons died during the last 24 hours, reports said on Wednesday.
Of the confirmed cases, Sindh reported 41,303, Punjab 40,819, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 14,527, Balochistan 7,031, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) 5,785, Gilgit-Baltistan 974, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) 412.
Of the 2,255 deaths, Punjab reported 773 deaths, Sindh 696, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 610, Balochistan 62, Gilgit-Baltistan 14, Islamabad Capital Territory 52, and AJK 9 as of Tuesday.
The populous Punjab province has seen a sharp rise in the number of corona cases and the World Health Organization has recommended that a strict two-week lockdown be enforced in the province.
In a letter to the Punjab government, the WHO lauded the provincial government's efforts in response to the pandemic.
"Government intervention on April 12th 2020 detailing social distancing measures including restrictions, closure of schools and businesses, international travel restrictions, and geographical area restrictions were instituted with the aim of limiting the spread of the disease," the letter said.
The organization said during the lockdown, the country was reporting 1,000 cases per day. However, this number increased after the federal government eased the lockdown in the country.
"SOPs need to be strictly enforced to stem the spread of the virus," the letter said. Cases increasing beyond 100,000 in Pakistan is a cause for concern, the WHO said. The WHO recommends that for any government that wants to start lifting restrictions, six conditions must be met including disease transmission is under control, health system can detect, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact, hot spot risks are minimized in vulnerable places, such as nursing homes, schools, workplaces and other essential places have established preventive measures, risk of importing new cases "can be managed", and communities are fully educated, engaged and empowered to live under a new normal
The WHO strongly recommends that the government adopts the two weeks off and two weeks on strategy, as it offers the smallest curve. It also recommends strengthening all public health measures such as quarantine, isolation, physical distancing, and contact tracing.
Given due consideration to the test positivity rate, developing testing capacity beyond 50,000 tests/day is extremely important, it said.
There were 102 testing labs functional in Pakistan undertaking COVID tests. Four new laboratories would start functioning soon.
Meanwhile, countries across South Asia have started to ease their virus lockdowns as they attempt to balance rising cases against economic misery. Pakistan had expected a peak in June but now is expecting late July or August, Prime Minister Imran Khan said in an address to the nation on June 8.
"The world has eased lockdowns since even developed countries have decided they can't survive with a prolonged lockdown," said Khan in a televised briefing on the pandemic, noting the restrictions had a "devastating impact on unemployment and poverty in poor countries."
Scientists have predicted that Pakistan is likely to reach the peak moment of its coronavirus outbreak by the end of June, as the country records its highest one-day deaths so far.
"In the current scenario, the peak is expected from June 20 to end of the month," Zafar Yasin, a scientist told Geo.
Yasin, who is affiliated with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), in Switzerland, and his colleagues Sohaib Hassan and Bilal Javed Mughal made the prediction based on a mathematical model called the "Susceptible-Exposed-Infectious-Recovered (SEIR)".
As per the findings of Yasin's team, Pakistan is predicted to record 210,000 to 226,000 coronavirus cases in total and 4,500 to 6,000 deaths by the end of August. Furthermore, at its peak, it would be reporting close to 100 deaths per day. — Agencies


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