Pakistan cattle vendors Eid market  disinfectant tunnel
Vendors walk through disinfectant tunnel with their cattle to help to contain the spread of coronavirus, at a cattle market set up for the upcoming Muslim festival Eid Al Adha in Peshawar, Pakistan, Tuesday, June 30, 2020. Image Credit: AP

Islamabad: For the first time since May 30, the number of new coronavirus cases in Pakistan has shown a significant downward trend, with 2,846 new cases registered following 20,930 countrywide tests in the last 24 hours.

The total number of tests conducted is 1.28 million since the outbreak of the dreaded virus. A month ago, on May 30, 2,429 cases were reported in a 24-hour span, while the total number of tests was 14,993 on that date.

Pakistan on Tuesday reported 205,023 cases of coronavirus and 4,304 deaths (2,846 new cases and 137 deaths in 24 hours). A total of 98,503 COVID-19 patients have recovered from the virus so far.

Fear of people not following SOPs

The positive development, however, has led to fears that people may stop taking precautionary measures against the highly contagious virus just because there is a slight sign of improvement in the overall situation.

Asad Umar, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, in an interaction with the media on Tuesday said the number of daily tests, which had dropped to around 20,000 [during last week], was again increased to around 25,000 across the country.

“Every person should strictly adopt precautionary measures. Otherwise, there will be another spike in the number of cases in coming days,” the minister said.

Indicators show infection is on the decline

To a question, Umar said the spread of the virus could be gauged through four parameters, namely: the number of daily positive cases, number of patients in hospitals, number of patients on ventilators and number of deaths. “All these four parameters have been showing positive signs as the numbers are decreasing,” he said.

It is indeed a positive sign that the inflow of patients to hospitals has decreased. “Though Sindh has not given us proper feedback, the feedback provided by Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad shows that the inflow of patients has reduced,” he added.

Punjab extends lockdown until July 15

The Punjab Government on Tuesday decided to extend the ongoing smart lockdown till July 15. According to a notification issued by the government, all public and private educational institutions, parks, cinemas, restaurants and marriage halls will remain closed across the province until July 15.

The provincial government, however, has decided to allow the reopening of low-risk businesses, provided they follow the SOPs issued by the authorities.

A number of areas open in Islamabad

In Islamabad too, the authorities are de-sealing the areas that had been put under lockdown 14 days ago. Life has returned to the two sub-sectors, G-9/2 and G-9/3, and the G-9 Markaz, known as Karachi Company. Cases of coronavirus in these areas have declined from 771 to almost zero after the imposition of effective smart lockdown.

According to Hamza Shafqaat, the deputy commissioner of police in Islamabad, although coronavirus cases in Islamabad had reduced, there was no decrease in the number of tests and more than 100,000 tests had been conducted, with the daily average of cases at 3,000.