In Pakistan, more than one in five people have tested positive for Covid-19 over the last two weeks, compared with one in 10 before the lockdown was lifted.
In light of the latest development, the World Health Organization has recommended Pakistani authorities to reimpose intermittent lockdowns of targeted areas to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. WHO also stated that the country did not meet the global body’s conditions for lifting restrictions.
“WHO strongly recommends the government to adopt the two weeks off and two weeks on strategy,” said the letter signed by WHO’s Head of Mission in Pakistan Dr. Palitha Mahipala.
A surge of new cases has hit the South Asian nation after the government lifted its lockdown on May 9 citing economic pressures. A total of 108,316 cases and 2,172 deaths have been recorded, with Monday seeing a single-day record of 105 fatalities.
In letters sent by the WHO on June 7 to health authorities of Pakistan’s two most populous provinces, Punjab and Sindh, it stressed the need to mitigate the risk of the health system collapsing.
It was not immediately clear if the same advice was also sent to other provinces or the federal government.
WHO’s letter also recommends six conditions for lifting restrictions including the disease transmission being under control, being able to detect, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact, essential places having established preventive measures, and communities being educated, engaged and empowered to live under a new normal.
WHO pointed out that Pakistan met none of these conditions.
Punjab and Sindh authorities both endorsed the WHO’s concerns and said the provincial cabinets would discuss the recommendations.
The letter states that it is extremely important to develop the capacity to conduct beyond 50,000 tests daily.
Pakistan, a country of over 207 million people, has tested a maximum of 24,000 people daily.