WHO Calls For New Lockdowns In Pakistan As COVID-19 Surges

This picture taken on April 24, 2020 shows a sign of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva next to their headquarters, amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus.
Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

The World Health Organization has told Pakistan it should implement “intermittent” lockdowns to counter a surge in coronavirus infections that has come as the country loosens restrictions, officials said.

Since the start of Pakistan’s outbreak in March, Prime Minister Imran Khan opposed a nationwide lockdown of the sort seen elsewhere, arguing the impoverished country could not afford it.

Instead, Pakistan’s four provinces ordered a patchwork of closures, but last week Khan said most of these restrictions would be lifted.

Health officials on Wednesday declared a record number of new cases in the past 24 hours. The country has now confirmed a total of more than 113,000 cases and 2,200 deaths — though with testing still limited, real rates are thought to be much higher.

“As of today, Pakistan does not meet any of the pre-requisite conditions for opening the lockdown”, the WHO said in a letter confirmed by Pakistan officials on Tuesday.

Many people have not adopted behavioural changes such as social distancing and frequent hand-washing, meaning “difficult” decisions will be required including “intermittent lockdowns” in targeted areas, the letter states.

READ ALSO: Elevated Extreme Poverty To Persist Through 2021 – World Bank

Some 25 percent of tests in Pakistan come back positive for COVID-19, the WHO said, indicating high levels of infection in the general population.

The health body recommended an intermittent lockdown cycle of two weeks on, two weeks off.

Responding to the WHO’s letter, Zafar Mirza, the prime minister’s special advisor for health, said the country had “consciously but gradually” eased lockdowns while enforcing guidelines in shops, mosques and public transport.

“We have to make tough policy choices to strike a balance between lives and livelihoods,” Mirza said Wednesday.

Punjab’s provincial health minister Yasmin Rashid, who received the WHO’s letter, said the provincial government had already given “orders to take strict action against those violating” virus guidelines.

Hospitals across Pakistan say they are at or near capacity, and some are turning COVID-19 patients away.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday that 136,000 cases had been reported in the previous 24 hours, “the most in a single day so far”, with the majority of them in South Asia and the Americas.

AFP

Anthonia Orji

Disqus Comments Loading...

Recent Posts

  • In Pictures
  • Politics

PHOTOS: Akeredolu Visits Buhari Ahead Of Ondo Election

  Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the nation’s capital.…

15 mins ago
  • World News

EU Takes Aim At Apple In Landmark Antitrust Cases

  The EU's powerful competition authority opened a series of cases against Apple on Tuesday, in a sign that Brussels…

18 mins ago
  • Local

Banditry: Katsina Youths Stage Protest Against Killings

    Residents of Katsina, especially youths have taken to the major streets in the state capital to protest against…

30 mins ago
  • World News

Macron To Mark De Gaulle Wartime Speech With UK Trip

  French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Britain on Thursday to mark 80 years since exiled wartime resistance leader Charles…

39 mins ago
  • Africa
  • World News

Africa Urges UN Probe Of US ‘Systemic Racism’, Police Violence

  African countries are pushing for the UN's top rights body to launch a high-level investigation into "systemic racism" and…

1 hour ago
  • Headlines

VIDEO: Edo Governor, Godwin Obaseki, Resigns From APC

  Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has formally resigned from the All Progressives Congress (APC). The governor announced this on…

2 hours ago