Islamabad: Pakistan recorded its lowest number of deaths due to the coronavirus in a day since May 3 on Sunday, with 20 patients succumbing to COVID-19, taking the country’s overall death toll to 5,932. There were 1,176 new cases of the virus recorded across the country, taking the total number of cases to 274,289. While testing has remained low, with just 22,056 tests conducted on Sunday, the country’s test-positive rate registered at 5.3 percent.
Senior government officials on Sunday claimed the country has achieved success against the virus due to its “smart lockdown” policy, of not shutting down entire cities, but rather specific neighbourhoods with higher rates of infection. Dr Zafar Mirza, the head of the country’s health ministry, however, warned that the Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Adha this weekend, followed by the Shia Muslim observance of Ashura, could lead to a spike to infections due to the holding of large religious congregations.
Studies on Pakistan’s experience with the coronavirus are still in their preliminary stages, but one sero-prevalance survey conducted by multinational pharmaceutical firm Getz Pharma suggests the number of people who have, or have earlier had, the virus could be as high as 17.5 percent among the country’s urban, office-going population. The Getz study suggests Pakistan’s official number of cases, 274,289, is a small fraction of the true spread of the virus. It found that most carriers of the virus in Pakistan – as many as 90 percent – appear to be symptom-free.