Pakistan’s government is considering a stricter lockdown as the country witnesses record Covid-19 deaths.
On Tuesday, it recorded 201 coronavirus deaths – a first since the start of the pandemic – taking Pakistan’s overall death toll so far to 17,530. The previous highest recorded daily death count was 157 on 23 April.
It also recorded 5,292 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total to 810,231. The national positivity ratio, the number of infections among those tested, was 10.8 per cent while the death rate, the number of infections resulting in fatalities, hit the highest point since the start of the pandemic, reaching around 2.2 per cent.
According to Pakistan’s National Command Operation Center (NCOC), which oversees the government’s pandemic response, around 6,286 Covid-19 patients were being treated in 631 hospitals on Tuesday, and more than 70 per cent of ventilators and oxygen beds were occupied in hospitals in many major cities.
The south Asian nation is also struggling with vaccinations. So far, only two million jabs have been administered in Pakistan and it is reportedly struggling to procure supplies to cover enough of its population.
Officials admit that there is a risk of their health care facilities being overwhelmed as there are very limited health resources, with ventilators and oxygen in short supply.
According to local media, the NCOC, in a letter to provincial authorities, has asked the authorities to prepare for a two-week national lockdown from the first week of May.
On Monday the authorities deployed Pakistan’s army in 16 major cities where the positivity rates are high to assist the civilian law enforcement in enforcing measures such as wearing masks and closing of non-essential businesses after 6 pm.
On Tuesday, Pakistan’s health minister, Faisal Sultan, warned that strict steps could be extended to other areas if the public did not heed advice on social distancing, wearing masks, and other precautionary measures, especially during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, with the upcoming Eid holiday next month.
Pakistan’s neighbour, India, is also struggling with a record number of daily cases.
Additional reporting by agencies