Since the beginning of July, there has been a decline in new coronavirus cases and the number of recovered patients has also increased. By the time this report was filed, there were 26,834 active COVID-19 cases in the country.
While Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan, as well as members of his team and other experts, repeatedly urged people to follow social distancing guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs) on Eidul Azha in order to avoid a June-like surge in coronavirus cases in the days to come, people were seen flaunting the same not only over the Eid weekend but also during rallies protesting illegal Indian annexation of held Kashmir on August 5.
It was reported by Gulf News that the upper class of Karachi completely ignored Sindh government directives by sacrificing animals wherever they wished to despite 500 sites being designated by the provincial administration for the purpose. “Residents in the most expensive and posh neighbourhoods of the city were no exception… officials didn’t make any effort to ensure the people followed the law,” the report said.
Meanwhile, the Punjab government on August 3 announced to lift the smart lockdown two days ahead of the scheduled date. The government announced to lift all restrictions on the third day of Eid because of a “significant” reduction in coronavirus cases.
While Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Usman Buzdar expressed satisfaction over the observance of SOPs on Eidul Azha, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar announced on Thursday that restrictions on the hospitality and recreational sectors, put in place nearly five months ago to curb the spread of the coronavirus, would be lifted by August 10.
Dine-in restaurants, parks, cinemas, tourist spots and salons would be re-opened while marriage halls would remain closed at least until September 15 and the decision to re-open educational institutes would be looked into during the first week of September, he said.
However, just a day after the announcement, Punjab witnessed a sudden increase in the number of new coronavirus cases. The everyday cases that had on an average dropped to below 100 during the past one month after reaching a new high in June, once again increased to around 300.
Although some medical experts were not perturbed and declared it a routine surge, others believed that it might be a signal for the beginning of the second wave of the outbreak. Punjab reported 277 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 besides five deaths during the last 24 hours against 235 a day earlier, Dawn reported.
Besides the lifting of lockdown restrictions for the economy’s sake in July, the surge is also being attributed to the fact that next to none social distancing guidelines were followed during the preparations and hosting of seminars and rallies to mark ‘Youme Istehsal [Exploitation Day]’ on the first anniversary of Narendra Modi-led India’s annexation of occupied Kashmir.
Even though the coronavirus situation in Pakistan is getting better on paper, how the pandemic turns out over the next few days is subject to the behaviour of the masses and the policies of the government.