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ISLAMABAD/LAHORE/KARACHI: Pakistan saw a 28 percent reduction in critical coronavirus cases due to smart lockdown and the implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs), the National Command and Control Centre said on Sunday as the country witnessed significant reduction in corona deaths and infections.

Latest data shows that 156,700 patients have recovered from the disease in Pakistan, there are 86,795 active cases out of whom 2,118 are in critical condition. According to the NCOC, the government’s decision to impose smart lockdown in areas reporting a spike in cases has produced the desired results as the number of cases has seen a steady decline.

The NCOC said a significant reduction in the number of positive cases has emerged as the country crossed the 100-day mark in its fight against coronavirus.

It added: “Smart lockdowns, a stronger enforcement effort, compliance of SOPs and the nationwide change in the behaviour can be credited for the current gains in the fight against COVID-19.”

The situation of coronavirus in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad has also improved after smart lockdown and pressure on hospitals is reducing now.

The virus has killed 5,267 people in Pakistan so far, with 87 more deaths during the last 24 hours, and infections are 251,000.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Department has reported 408 new cases, taking the provincial total to 30,486. It also reported 12 more deaths, taking the provincial death toll to 1,099.

The Balochistan Health Department reported 28 new infections in the province, taking the province’s total to 11,185. No new deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. Moreover, 177 recoveries were recorded, the death toll in the province is 126.

Another six patients died of COVID-19 in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi in last 24 hours taking the total number of deaths so far reported from the region to 417 which are more than two times as compared to the deaths so far reported from Balochistan province, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan combined.

To date, a total of 43 deaths due to the disease have been reported from AJK and 36 from GB. From Rawalpindi district alone, as many as 265 deaths have so far been reported, whereas the virus has so far claimed 152 lives in the federal capital.

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said he felt like it is too soon for Pakistan to declare victory over the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to the media in Karachi, Murad Ali Shah thanked the other three provinces — Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab — as well as Prime Minister Imran Khan for taking steps for prevention from the deadly coronavirus. “I’d earlier stressed that the pandemic would spread but it could be stopped,” he noted.

“We controlled the pandemic to some extent through the efforts we took. There were some challenges earlier when people were unable to get bed-space in the hospitals,” he said, adding that the coronavirus testing in Sindh was double than other provinces.

The chief minister underlined that the Sindh government had only achieved a little bit of the success that it was aiming for. “It is difficult to control coronavirus until a vaccine is developed,” the chief minister said.

He said he is not satisfied with the current testing levels in Sindh. “We have 11,268 beds,” he added. “I feel like we are declaring victory over coronavirus too early. We made preparations but I am not completely satisfied,” he said.

The chief minister also urged people to get tested. “Please do get tested. If pressure builds on our hospitals, we will further ramp up our capacity,” he said. Shah also spoke of the upcoming important religious days in the Islamic months of Muharram and Rabiul Awwal, saying there was concern that people would gather in crowds on these days.

The CM said 1,713 new cases of the novel coronavirus were reported during the past 24 hours taking the total number of infections in the province to 105,533. Death toll in the province stands at 1,795.

The Punjab Health Department has announced that all patients receiving treatment for coronavirus at Lahore Expo Centre field hospital have been discharged and all three halls of the medical facility closed temporarily.

The Punjab government had set up a 990-bed isolation facility, with 10-bed High Dependency Unit, at the Expo Centre, while 110 doctors and paramedical staff had been appointed to the centre to attend to the virus patients.

The department said all COVID-19 patients at the centre had been discharged after they fully recovered from the disease.

Punjab Health Minister Yasmin Rashid said if the government facility would be closed permanently after Moharram, the medical equipment and other resources would be sold out to other hospitals.

Coronavirus Expert Advisory Group Vice-Chairman Dr Asad Aslam said Lahore had seen an eminent decline in the reported cases of coronavirus. He said that out of 3,000 beds, allocated for coronavirus patients, about 2,700 were lying empty across the city.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Nabeel Awan noted that after Eidul Azha, there might be another spike in coronavirus cases. “If there are no cases reported for the virus in the coming days, then the medical facility would be permanently closed by August,” he added.

Meanwhile, the death of 21 more COVID-19 patients raised death toll to 2,006 in Punjab, while confirmed cases of novel coronavirus reached 86,556 with the addition of 565 new infections in the province