Pakistan reports highest daily Covid-19 cases since July 31
Another 16 die of coronavirus, 908 new infections recorded: India passes 8 million cases
Pakistan recorded 908 new coronavirus cases and 16 more deaths during the past 24 hours (Wednesday), the data released by National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) showed, as the authorities introduced tougher restrictions to curb the spread of the deadly virus.
With the addition of these figures, the overall number of coronavirus reported in the country has reached 331,108 with the death toll increasing to 6,775.
It is the highest daily count since July 31 when 903 people tested positive for the virus. Since then the number, at one point, had dipped to 213 on August 30. However, the infection rate again increased after that.
On the other hand, the increase of infection rate means the number of active cases is also on the rise with the country currently having 11,695 coronavirus patients with 897 of them receiving treatment in hospitals. It means more people are now being admitted to hospitals.
Meanwhile, 624 of these hospitalised patients are in intensive care units due to their critical condition. Moreover, 95 of them have been placed on ventilators.
In this scenario, Federal Minister Asad Umar, who also heads the NCOC, on Thursday said the positivity rate in the country was higher than 3 percent for the first time in more than 70 days.
He added that the NCOC had tightened restrictions on some high-risk public activities. “However, the rising spread of the disease can only be controlled if people believe in the need for precautions,” the minister stressed.
Earlier on Wednesday, the NCOC had made it mandatory to wear masks after leaving the house and at all the public places, including offices and markets. Moreover, it was also decided that marriage halls and markets should be closed at 10pm.
As far as the latest deaths reported on Wednesday are concerned, seven people died in Sindh, five in Punjab, two in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and one each in Islamabad and Azad Kashmir.
With the addition of these new cases, the number of infections reported in Sindh has now increased to 144,765. The figures for other provinces and regions are:
Punjab 103,587, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 39,277, Islamabad 19,454, Balochistan 15,876, Gilgit-Baltistan 4,211 and Azad Kashmir 3,938.
These figures again reveal that the most of the new cases were recorded in Sindh, Punjab and Islamabad, which is a continuation of the trend being witnessed in recent days.
Meanwhile, 824 coronavirus patients fully recovered from the infection during the past 24 hours, raising the total number of people overcoming the infection to 312,638. Hence, a total of 319,413 cases have so far closed [deaths + number of people recovering from infection] in the country.
Also on Wednesday, the officials administered another 29,449 tests across the country, after which the overall number has now jumped to 4,376,604.
Sharp rise in Indian cases
India on Thursday passed eight million coronavirus cases, with the world's second-worst-hit country bracing for a possible second wave ahead of winter and a series of religious festivals.
There have now been 8,040,203 cases and 120,527 deaths across the country of 1.3 billion people, according to the latest government figures.
The United States has seen 9.1 million cases and more than 230,000 deaths.
India has one of the world's lowest death rates and ministers have highlighted the slowing number of new infections in recent weeks.
But authorities are preparing for a new surge after Diwali, the country's most important religious festival on November 14.
"All states need to be careful during the coming festive season. This caution must be exercised for the next three months at least," Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in a recent statement.
A stringent lockdown imposed in March has gradually been eased as the government seeks to reboot the economy after the loss of millions of jobs nationwide. But experts say this has helped spread Covid-19.
New Delhi recorded 5,000 new cases on Wednesday, its highest daily figure since the outbreak of the pandemic. Officials have warned that the capital could see more than 10,000 cases a day in the next wave.
Randeep Guleria, director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, told the Times of India newspaper that if cases coninued surging the country's fragile healthcare system "will get really stressed."
Experts have said crowds gathering for Diwali and other festivals, colder temperatures and the annual winter pollution crisis could worsen the impact of coronavirus cases in Delh.
Authorities are also worried about the southern state of Kerala and West Bengal in the east which have seen worrying spikes in cases.
Financial capital Mumbai, India's worst-hit city with more than 250,000 cases and over 10,000 deaths, is currently adding about 2,000 cases a day.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has warned the population in recent speeches that they are being "careless" in giving up social distancing and other precautions.
While businesses and theatres have slowly started to reopen, schools and colleages remain shut in most cities and international flights are severely limited.
India only has air links with a small number of countries -- including the United States, France, Germany and Britain -- where they have made special arrangements.
India's domestic air market was the world's fastest growing before the pandemic but is currently operating at less than 60 percent of the capacity of 12 months ago.
Marshall Islands records first coronavirus cases
The Marshall Islands in the Pacific has confirmed its first Covid-19 cases -- ending the archipelago's status as one of the few nations in the world to remain virus free.
The Marshalls government announced late Wednesday that two workers at a US Army garrison on Kwajalein Atoll had tested positive for coronavirus after arriving on a military flight from Hawaii on Tuesday.
It stressed the pair -- a 35-year-old woman and 46-year-old man -- had no community contact during their time in the Marshalls.
"We can assure the public that these are strictly border cases and were discovered while these people were in quarantine, where they remain until this time," Chief Secretary Kino Kabua said in a statement.
The Marshalls, a group of islands and atolls about halfway between Australia and Hawaii, closed its borders in early March in a bid to keep out the virus.
Pacific island nations were swift to isolate themselves, despite the economic cost, amid fears their poor health infrastructure made them particularly vulnerable to the pandemic.
As a result, the remote island nations and territories of Kiribati, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are believed to be still free of the virus.
The Solomon Islands lost its virus-free status in early October.
Since June, the Marshalls had eased restrictions slightly to allow in some people, mostly US military base workers, subject to a strict three-week quarantine at the Kwajalein garrison.
The two Americans who tested positive had returned negative swabs before departing Hawaii and were both asymptomatic, Kabua said.
She said the woman had previously had Covid-19 in late July and tests were being carried out to see if the case was historical, and not contagious -- while the man had no history of infection.
Ebon Atoll Mayor Marie Davis Milne, a frequent critic of border relaxation, said confirmation of Covid-19 was a blow for the nation of almost 80,000.
"What we were worried about has come true," she posted on social media.
"Now lives are going to be put on hold because a handful of people made the decisions they did for whatever reasons.
"Life as we all knew it will be in limbo until further notice because of the choices of a few."
With inputs from AFP