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Alarm bells as Pakistan’s active COVID-19 cases cross 50,000

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's number of active COVID-19 cases surged above 50,000 on Wednesday as the country continues its fights against the second wave of the virus.

In the latest figures from the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), Pakistan reported 3,499 new infections in the last 24 hours, raising the total tally to 406,810 as active cases climbed to 51,654.

The NCOC data shows the pandemic's pace in Pakistan has quickened as the tally crossed 400,000 on December 1 with at least 29,881 new cases reported in the last 10 days only.

Sindh reported the highest number of coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours with 1,983 infections. Punjab reported 727 new cases, Islamabad 417, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 218, Azad Jammu and Kashmir 85, Balochistan 53, and Gilgit Baltistan 16.

Atleast 346,951 people have recovered from the virus so far.

Thirty-nine people have lost their lives to the virus in the last 24 hours with the country's death toll now at 8,205.

What are the restrictions?

Masks are mandatory in public spaces, public gatherings are to be limited to 300, indoor weddings are banned, shrines, cinemas and theatres closed and offices have been told to adopt work-from-home policy and 50% occupancy.

The federal government also announced that educational institutes will remain closed from November 26 to January 10. The students will study at home or get weekly homework till December 24 and winter vacations will start December 25. The schools will reopen on January 11 – which is subject to coronavirus situation then.

All examinations have been postponed except admission and recruitment tests.

The Islamabad administration has directed the hostels to accommodate one-third of the usual number of students.

At least six cities in Punjab are under a smart lockdown, while all shopping malls, restaurants and offices are closed.

In Sindh, the government has allowed markets and business centres to operate from 6am to 8pm on weekdays but directed them to stay shut on weekends. Only essential services will stay open on weekends. Indoor events have been banned while outdoor events are limited to 200 guests. At weddings, closed-door marquees and buffets have been banned while food is to be served in packets and the function has to end by 9:00pm. All cinemas, shrines, theatres, and gym will stay closed.

In Balochistan, the provincial education department announced early and extended winter vacations last week. Educational institutes will remain closed from December to February.

Indoor weddings are banned in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and outdoor gatherings limited to 300 guests. All shopping malls, markets, restaurants, and wedding halls have been directed to shut by 10:00pm. Public parks and recreational spots will close by 6:00pm. Essential services, pharmacies, tandoor shops, and petrol pumps will remain open 24/7

A 15-day lockdown was imposed in Azad Jammu and Kashmir on November 20 under which all public gatherings have been banned. Only essential services are allowed with strict implementation of coronavirus SOPs.

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