Pakistan tightens restrictions amid new Covid-19 wave

Islamabad, Mar 29 (efe-epa).- The Pakistan government tightened restrictions Monday amid a fresh Covid-19 wave that is turning out to be worse than the previous two in a country battling an inordinate delay in anti-coronavirus vaccines.

The country of 220 million people has banned social, cultural, political, and sporting events from Monday after a surge in daily infections and deaths.

The health authorities said they detected 4,525 infections and 41 deaths in the last 24 hours across the country, most of them from the capital Islamabad.

The overall tally has now reached 659,116 infections, including 14,256 deaths since the pandemic began early last year.

The government has also limited the capacity of public transport services and restaurant seating capacity to 30 percent.

The government has also decided to ban wedding ceremonies from early next month in cities and districts with more than 8 percent positivity.

The new restrictions are in addition to those imposed last week, which limited the opening hours of markets, parks, and other public places.

“The third wave is more lethal and spreading fast in comparison to the first and second waves,” Qaiser Sajjad, secretary-general of the Pakistan Medical Association, told EFE.

He said the country had a mix of coronavirus variants and the strain that was first detected in the United Kingdom spreading faster than the previous one.

The new wave comes amid a shortage of anti-covid jabs in the country that does not produce vaccines and depends on imports.

“We are not getting supply even from the countries which have committed, because of shortage in the manufacturing countries,” Prime Minister Imran Khan said in a televised speech on Sunday night.

Khan referred to the delays in the arrival of the four million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Covax program of the United Nations.

The shots were to come from India, a country that has slowed down its vaccine imports due to the surge in infections.

So far, Pakistan has received one million doses of Sinopharm vaccines donated by China.

The prime minister also acknowledged that the third wave “is much more intense than the first two.”

“I advise you all to be extremely careful,” he said. EFE-EPA


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