A family wearing face masks ride on a motorbike in northwest Pakistan's Peshawar on April 7, 2021. As Pakistan is struggling to contain the third wave of COVID-19, the country reported 4,004 new COVID-19 cases over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 700,188, the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) said on Wednesday. (Photo by Saeed Ahmad/Xinhua)
ISLAMABAD, April 7 (Xinhua) -- As Pakistan is struggling to contain the third wave of COVID-19, the country reported 4,004 new COVID-19 cases over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 700,188, the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) said on Wednesday.
The country's southern Sindh province has been the worst-hit with 267,238 cases followed by east Punjab province where 237,594 people have been tested positive, the NCOC said in a statement.
A total of 102 people died across the country during the last 24 hours, raising the death toll to 15,026, the official statement said, adding that 4,529 patients are being treated in hospitals across Pakistan.
Urging the Pakistani people to strictly follow standard operating procedures to stop the spread of the virus, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran khan said that the third wave of COVID-19 is extremely dangerous in comparison to the previous two waves.
"We have so far been protecting our people. We are not imposing a complete lockdown or closing our factories. We are only imposing minor restrictions so that this wave does not spread rapidly. But if this spreads, it will have a very negative impact and we will be forced to take steps," Khan said in a recent interactive session with the public.
To counter the deadly third wave, Pakistan has recently taken several measures by banning all kinds of both indoor and outdoor mass gatherings, closing educational institutions in some areas of the country and suspending inter-provincial transport two days a week from April 10 to 25.
Asad Umar, chief of the NCOC, said on Tuesday that increased restrictions, broader lockdowns and strong enforcement of standard operating procedures have started showing their effect.
The rising trend of positivity rate has been flattened, but the number of critical patients and mortality will stay at high levels for some time due to the momentum of last two weeks, Umar said.
Meanwhile, the country's COVID-19 vaccination campaign is in full-swing, with authorities urging eligible citizens to get themselves vaccinated against the disease.
So far, more than 1 million people have been vaccinated, and the total number of people who have registered themselves for vaccination is now over 2 million, according to the NCOC chief.
Pakistani health experts believe that the variant of COVID-19 initially discovered in Britain has been behind the surge in the number of infections in the country.
"The new variant seemed to be more contagious and deadly, and the only way we can control it is to shut all kinds of activities that may play role in the spread of the disease," Ejaz Ahmad Khan, an infectious disease specialist at the Shifa International Hospital in Islamabad, told Xinhua.
He said the government is trying hard to control the situation, but cooperation of the Pakistani people is also very important. "Solely the government cannot take control of this fatal disease without our help." Enditem