Pakistan virus deaths drop, but government warns of Eid spike

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistan has seen an 80-per-cent drop in coronavirus deaths but risks a spike in new cases after the upcoming Aidiladha festival, a government health official said yesterday.

According to government data, Pakistan saw daily virus deaths peak at about 150 in June. On Saturday, only 24 new fatalities were reported over the previous day.

Senior Health Advisor for Prime Minister Imran Khan Zafar Mirza told reporters about six per cent of those being tested were positive for coronavirus.

“The number of deaths caused by coronavirus has dropped by 80 per cent in Pakistan,” he said.

In all, Pakistan has confirmed more than 270,000 cases including nearly 5,800 deaths.

Some observers, however, warn the numbers do not reflect the true extent of cases in Pakistan, with many people reluctant to get tested and overall testing rates still low.

Faisal Sultan, who is helping lead the government’s coronavirus response, said yesterday that only 23,000 out of an available 50,000 tests had been utilised in the previous 24 hours.

The Health Ministry did not immediately respond to a query about why the testing rate was so low.

Many people ignored social distancing guidelines and flocked to mosques and markets during the last religious holiday marking the end of Ramadhan in May, helping fuel a subsequent surge in COVID-19 cases across Pakistan.

A farmer waits for customers at a cattle market set to buy sacrificial animals ahead of Aidiladha in Lahore. PHOTOS: AFP