Pakistan reported 97 more coronavirus deaths on Saturday, the highest 24-hour increase to its fatalities, as authorities urged volunteers to motivate people to adhere to social distancing regulations to contain the spread of the virus.
According to Usman Dar, who heads the “Corona Relief Tiger Force,” about 1 million volunteers have signed up recently in response to the government’s call to help the country’s most vulnerable people during the coronavirus outbreak.
He told reporters that 165,348 volunteers are currently assisting authorities to contain the spread of the virus.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the volunteers will also be used to deliver food and medicine to needy and poor people if needed.
Pakistan also reported 4,734 new virus cases, raising its overall infections to 93,983.
With the latest 97 virus-related deaths, Pakistan’s overall fatalities have jumped to 1,935.
Pakistan COVID-19 numbers ‘concerning’
On Friday, a Reuters review of government data showed over 20,000 cases of the virus were identified in the three weeks before the lockdown was lifted, and more than double that figure were identified in the three weeks since.
To be sure, testing rates have also increased. But of those tested, the daily average of positive results climbed from on average 11.5 percent in the three weeks before the lockdown was lifted, to 15.4 percent on average in the subsequent three weeks. The ratio is around 23 percent this week, according to the data.
“Those numbers are concerning, since they do suggest there may still be widespread transmission in certain parts of the country,” said Claire Standley, assistant research professor at the Department of International Health at Georgetown University.
Experts say measures that could curb cases – like limits on religious gatherings and crowded shopping areas and emphasizing social distancing – should be reinstated and some doctors are
raising the alarm.
According to a letter seen by Reuters, a committee of experts backed by the local health department in Pakistan’s most populous province, Punjab, told the provincial government the lockdown needed to continue.
The letter said random testing suggested more than 670,000 people in the provincial capital Lahore had likely contracted the virus, many of them asymptomatic.