Islamabad: The number of COVID-19 cases surged to a record high in Pakistan as the governments of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan announced the partial easing of lockdown measures imposed to curb the spread of the virus.
On Friday, the country registered 1,807 cases from the three provinces of Punjab, Sindh and KP alone, taking the national tally to 26,954, reports Dawn news.
This was the highest daily spike in the number of infections since Pakistan confirmed its first case on February 26.
The death toll currently stood at 611.
The announcement of the partial easing of lockdowns by the four provincial governments on Friday came a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the countrywide lockdown will be lifted in phases from Saturday by reopening all construction-related industries and shopping centres for five days a week.
A notification issued by the KP relief department said businesses associated with the construction industry will be exempt from closure subject to them following the standard operating procedures (SOPs) already issued for industrial units and sale points.
It also added that all shops will be allowed to remain open for four days a week and not later than 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan said that the provincial government will submit a recommendation to the Centre for not lifting the lockdown in the province’s major cities.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said that shops will be allowed to open after dawn and will be required to close at 5 p.m.
They will remain closed on Saturdays and Sundays which will be “safe days with 100 per cent lockdown”, Dawn news quoted Shah as saying.
The businesses permitted to resume from Monday include shops in rural areas and neighbourhood shops situated in residential localities, excluding large market places.
In Balochistan, a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan approved the move to turn the lockdown imposed in the province into a ‘smart lockdown’, under which restrictions are enforced in virus hotspots only.
He announced that markets will be allowed to open from 3 a.m. till 5 p.m. (IANS)