Pakistan's lockdown relaxation resulted in rise in coronavirus infection rate: WHO

Islamabad [Pakistan], June 9 (ANI): Highlighting that relaxation of the nationwide lockdown resulted in increase of coronavirus infection rate in Pakistan, the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggested imposing an "intermittent lockdown" in the country to curb the spread of the virus.

In a letter addressed to Punjab Health Minister Yasmin Rashid dated June 7, Palitha Mahipala, WHO country head for Pakistan, pointed out that the COVID-19 positivity rate in Pakistan is high and the surveillance system is weak, adding that the country does not meet any prerequisites for lifting restrictions, Dawn reported.

In the letter, Mahipala stated that coronavirus has spread to almost all districts in Pakistan, with major cities making up a majority of national cases. The country has reported over 1.10 lakh cases so far.

"Government intervention on April 12 detailing social distancing measures, including movement restrictions, closure of schools and businesses, international travel restrictions and geographical area restrictions were instituted with the aim of limiting the spread of the disease," she wrote in the letter.

According to WHO recommendations, any government that wishes to lift lockdown restrictions must meet a set of conditions. The letter said that Pakistan has not met any of the condition so far.

"The positivity rate is high, the surveillance system is weak, there is limited capacity to provide for critical patients and the population is not ready to adapt to change in behaviour," the letter stated.

Pakistan's reproductive number (R), which is an estimate for the number of individuals infected by each carrier, is also greater than 1.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said that Pakistan's coronavirus cases are expected to peak by the end of July or August. He also said that the entire world has now understood that lockdowns are not a solution for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pakistan is a "poor country" and had "no choice" but to reopen the country, said Khan. (ANI)