Pakistan's Punjab records highest COVID-19 cases since June 2020 amid surge in infections

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Representative Image

Islamabad [Pakistan], March 15 (ANI): As the third wave of COVID-19 intensifies in Pakistan, the Punjab province on Sunday reported over 1,600 coronavirus cases for the first time since June 2020.

According to data from the government's coronavirus portal, 1,653 fresh infections were detected in the province in the last 24 hours, marking the fifth straight day Punjab recorded more than 1,000 cases, reported Dawn.

The province's tally now stands at 185,468. A total of 973 infections in Lahore, followed by 81 in Gujranwala, 76 in Sialkot, and 73 in Rawalpindi, according to the daily situation report from the health department.

Amid the rising cases, the provincial government has imposed a lockdown in seven high-burdened cities, restricting the movement of the people to their homes, while all commercial activities, establishments, markets and areas throughout the province of Punjab shall be closed by 6 pm, Dawn reported.

The major lockdown will start from Monday (tomorrow) for two weeks in the seven cities after a gap of a year.

While issuing a notification on Saturday, the Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department said a major lockdown had been imposed in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Multan, Gujranwala and Gujrat, restricting the movement of the people within these districts and outside them.

There shall also be a complete ban on gatherings of all kinds for social, religious or other purposes at any place, public or private, in these seven cities, while a complete ban has been imposed on all kinds of indoor gatherings.

The upper limit for outdoor gatherings in the rest of the province is 300 people for the maximum duration of two hours.

Earlier this month, schools were closed in seven cities of the province -- Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Lahore, Gujrat, Multan, Rawalpindi and Sialkot -- till March 28, according to Dawn.

One of the major reasons for the sharp surge of the cases was the presence of a highly infectious UK variant of the virus, with its presence located in Lahore, Jhelum, Okara, and Gujrat.

Pakistan has recorded up to 6,05,200 total infections along with 13,508 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. (ANI)