ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Sunday recorded 149 coronavirus-related deaths — its highest single-day COVID-19 death toll since June last year, government data showed, as a third viral wave sweeps through the country.
The South Asian country of 220 million has recorded 756,285 infections and 16,243 deaths since the beginning of the outbreak in February last year.
At least 6,127 new coronavirus cases were reported in the past 24 hours by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), which oversees the country’s pandemic response. According to official data, 4,446 coronavirus patients are critical.
Statistics 18 April 21:
Total Tests in Last 24 Hours: 71,836
Positive Cases: 6,127
Positivity % : 8.52%
Deaths : 149
— NCOC (@OfficialNcoc) April 18, 2021
Most of the daily deaths, 97, were reported in the country’s largest province, Punjab, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — 35.
Sunday’s virus death toll is the second highest since the beginning of the pandemic. The highest number of fatalities was recorded on June 19, 2020, when 153 people died of COVID-19.
The increasing number of COVID-19 deaths comes as the number of people getting vaccinated against the virus is believed to have dropped during the first days of Ramadan, as many fear that receiving a shot could break their fast.
As infection figures are rising, Pakistan on Wednesday will start vaccinating residents aged 50 or older against COVID-19, Planning Minister Asad Umar said on Saturday.
The country began its vaccination drive last February with doses of the Sinopharm vaccine donated by China, starting with health workers, followed by people above the age of 60.
Last week, Umar, who also heads the NCOC, said Pakistan had so far vaccinated about 1.3 million people and intended to launch a general vaccination program for all citizens after the fasting month of Ramadan in mid-May.
American media company Bloomberg recently reported that Pakistan would take a decade to vaccinate 75 percent of its population — required for herd immunity — at its current immunization pace.