ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s prime minister has ruled out another coronavirus lockdown despite a rapid surge in new coronavirus cases, which on Thursday rose to a seven-month high.
Pakistan recorded 6,808 new COVID-19 infections, the highest number of daily cases since June 2020, according to health ministry data. The total number of cases rose to nearly 1.3 million since March 2020. Five people died due to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, pushing the death toll to 29,042.
The South Asian nation is currently facing a fifth wave of coronavirus infections fueled by the highly transmissible omicron variant of the disease.
While its pandemic response body imposed on Wednesday new curbs in cities where the COVID-19 positivity rate is above 10 percent to control the spread, Prime Minister Imran Khan said the country is not going to bring its economy to a standstill.
“We will not close our economy,” he told business representatives during a launching ceremony of the National Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Policy on Wednesday.
He said that Pakistan emerged from the last four waves of the pandemic without colossal losses, and is able to handle the current one too.
“Another wave is coming, another challenge is coming,” Khan said, adding that instead of going into lockdown, the country will follow health guidelines and coronavirus-related procedures.
“The world is appreciating Pakistan (for) the way it saved its economy and the people,” he said.
Pakistan imposed a strict countrywide lockdown in March 2020 to contain the spread of the virus, but as early as in mid-April the government began lifting it in phases — a move pushed primarily by fears of an economic meltdown. By August, all business activity reopened.