Pakistan COVID-19 deaths cross 1000-mark, cases surge past 48,000

Islamabad, May 21 (efe-epa) – The number of people killed in Pakistan by the new coronavirus went past 1000 on Thursday along with 48,000 cases, amid a controversy sparked by the gradual lifting of restrictions before the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

The country of 207 million inhabitants has now reported 1,017 deaths due to the disease, out of which 32 were registered in last 24 hours, according to the latest data released by the government.

At the same time, the Asiatic nation reached 48,064 cases of the novel coronavirus after 429,600 tests, while 14,155 people have recovered from the disease.

The northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is the worst hit with 351 COVID-19 deaths, followed by Sindh in the south with 316 and Punjab – which accounts for almost the half population of the country – with 297 deaths.

The country is currently in the process of lifting the lockdown – which was imposed on Mar. 23 – and streets and commercial areas are filled with people shopping for Eid-al-Fitr, the festival that marks the end of Ramadan and will be celebrated between Sunday and Monday.

The majority of shops are open, with an order to shut at 5pm, just like the offices, while train and domestic air services are partially operational. However, educational institutions and restaurants continue to remain closed.

Although the curve of coronavirus deaths and infections is on the rise, it continues to be lower than what was forecast at the beginning of the epidemic.

The Supreme Court sparked a controversy on Monday by ordering the reopening of all malls and markets after the partial reopening initiated by the government on May 7, saying that the disease “apparently is not a pandemic in Pakistan.”

Likewise, the religious leaders of the country announced that the mosques, which had been operating partially in theory but witnessed a huge influx in practice, would be completely reopened.

“What pandemic? We are a blessed people anyway. No big deal if a few thousand people are killed by the virus; business must not be stopped,” columnist and analyst of the prestigious local newspaper Dawn, Zahid Hussain, wrote satirically in his latest article.

“Pakistan would perhaps be the only country in denial about the pandemic”, added the writer about what he considers to be a premature return to normalcy. EFE-EPA


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