Islamabad: Pakistan reported a record number of 1,991 coronavirus cases in a single day, taking the total number of infections to over 29,000, the health ministry said on Sunday as the country began easing the month-long lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the deadly disease.
Despite a surge in the number of COVID-19 infections, the first phase of the easing of the lockdown began on Saturday. The government announced removing restrictions by allowing more businesses to open and operate from dawn to 5pm.
However, doctors have warned against easing the restrictions. The Representative of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) have demanded that the government observe the World Health Organization protocols and implement a strict lockdown.
The Ministry of National Health Services said that 21 new deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of fatalities to 639.
A total of 8,023 people have recovered so far.
Punjab registered 11,093 cases, Sindh 10,771, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 4,509, Balochistan 1,935, Islamabad 641, Gilgit-Baltistan 430 and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir 86.
The total number of infections in the country has reached 29,465, it said.
So far, the authorities have conducted 283,517 tests, including 13,341 in the last 24 hours.
People flocked to the markets on Saturday even before guidelines were issued by the provincial governments on the easing of the lockdown.
While allowing more businesses to open, the Pakistan government asked people to strictly observe social distancing and avoid going out unless there is an urgent need.
Meanwhile, Pakistan opened its border with Afghanistan at Chaman in Balochistan province from 8am to 5pm on Saturday to allow 2,977 Afghan nationals to cross over to their country.
The border had opened for crossing Afghans and Pakistanis into their respective countries, a senior official of the Chaman administration, Zakaullah Durrani, told the Dawn newspaper.
He said that so far 488 Pakistanis stranded in Afghanistan have also returned.
Last month, Pakistan sent back over 37,000 Afghan families after it opened the Pak-Afghan friendship gate at Chaman on the special request of the Afghanistan government, the report said.
Thousands of Afghan nationals enter Pakistan on a daily basis for business needs and meeting family members living here as refugees since the 1980s. But the movement was stopped due the COVID-19 restrictions.