Corona kills 12, infects 666 in Pakistan as India’s cases top 7 million
On a day when India's coronavirus cases surged past seven million moving it ever closer to overtaking the United States as the world's most infected country, Pakistan on Sunday recorded 12 deaths during the last 24 hours (Saturday) by coronavirus as the number of positive cases has surged to 318,932 with the addition of 666 more fatalities.
As per the latest data released by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Sunday morning, the nationwide tally of fatalities has jumped to 6,570 with the 12 more deaths.
Sindh remained the worst-hit province by the pandemic in terms of cases followed by Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad. As many as 140,131 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Sindh, 100,687 in Punjab, 38,329 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 17,296 in Islamabad, 15,520 in Balochistan, 3,045 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and 3,924 in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Furthermore 2,549 individuals have lost their lives to the epidemic in Sindh, 2,257 in Punjab, 1,263 in KP, 146 in Balochistan, 188 in Islamabad, 89 in GB and 78 in Azad Kashmir.
Pakistan has so far conducted 3,857,845 coronavirus tests and 28,893 in last 24 hours. 303,458 coronavirus patients have recovered in the country whereas 483 patients are in critical condition. The total number of active Covid cases in Pakistan now stood at 8,904 on Sunday.
Earlier, authorities said a mini-lockdown will be imposed in certain coronavirus "hotspots" of the federal capital starting Sunday morning, the district health office said.
A notification was issued, according to which in the first phase, the areas which will be put under a "mini" lockdown include G-9/4, G-10/4, I-8/2 and NPF.
The health office said that a few streets of the above areas will be sealed "for now" to curtail the spread of the virus. It urged people to cooperate with health officials and with the security personnel during the lockdown period.
In Karachi, authorities sealed a number of educational institutions, eateries, wedding halls, shops etc for violating the coronavirus SOPs. The development came after resurgence of coronavirus cases in the city. It has prompted the authorities to place several virus hotspots under micro smart lockdown for two weeks.
India cases cross 7 million
India's coronavirus cases surged past seven million on Sunday, taking it ever closer to overtaking the United States as the world's most infected country. Health ministry data showed a rise of almost 75,000 cases on Sunday, taking the total to 7.05 million, second only to the US which has recorded 7.67 million infections.
Experts say that the true number may be much higher, with testing rates in the vast country of 1.3 billion people -- home to some of the planet's most crowded cities -- much lower than in many other countries.
This is borne out by a string of studies measuring antibodies to the virus among the Indian population that have indicated infection rates could be several times higher than officially recorded.
India's death toll of 108,334 as of Sunday is also lower than in the US and other countries with higher caseloads.
The United States has recorded 214,000 deaths while Brazil, with two million fewer infections than India, has lost nearly 150,000 lives so far.
Possible factors for this include India's relatively young population, immunity thanks to other diseases -- and under-reporting.
The rise in infections in India comes as the government continues to lift restrictions to boost an economy battered by a severe lockdown imposed in March.
On Thursday, cinemas are set to re-open -- albeit at 50 percent capacity -- and experts fear the upcoming festival season when large crowds gather for public celebrations will exacerbate the situation.
Anticipating a fresh surge in cases, the government has issued strict guidelines and capped the number of revellers for the two main Hindu festivals of Dussehra on October 25 and Diwali next month.
On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a mass awareness campaign, encouraging the public to wear masks, practise hand hygiene and maintain physical distance.
"Our collective efforts have helped saved many lives. We have to continue the momentum and protect our citizens from the virus," Modi tweeted.
- 'Underlying anxiety' -
The virus initially hit major metropolises such as Mumbai and New Delhi, but has since spread to almost every corner of the huge country, including the remote Andaman and Nicobar islands.
Recently, the daily number of new cases has fallen from a peak of almost 100,000 in mid-September to around 60,000-70,000.
But Preeti Kumar of the Delhi-based Public Health Foundation of India said it was too early to assume India has passed the peak.
"What the epidemic has taught us is caution. These declines (in numbers) are real but depend on many factors such as testing, type of testing, intervention efficacy etcetera," Kumar told AFP.
Many Indians are worried too.
"Despite the government's efforts to take things back to normal, it doesn't feel that way because there is an underlying anxiety that I may be the next to become a part of the virus statistics," said Anamika Prasad, 23, a university student.
Jayprakash Shukla, 66, a retired government official, said he was worried about cases going up "hugely and beyond control".
"When I go out, I see many people without masks," he said.
"Maybe they are fed up of wearing masks but if people don't change their ways, it is going to be calamitous for our country."
With inputs from AFP