ISLAMABAD, Pakistan

New coronavirus cases in Pakistan continued to decline for a fifth consecutive day on Wednesday, official data showed. 

According to the Health Ministry, 3,892 cases were confirmed across the country over the past 24 hours, raising the overall count to 188,926.

The figure marked a fall of almost 3,000 from the record high of 6,895 reached slightly over a week ago on June 13.

It was also the fifth day of declining cases — 6,604 on June 19, 4,951 on June 20, 4,471 on June 21, and 3,946 on June 22.

Fatalities have also decreased significantly over recent days, falling to 60 on Wednesday from the record high of 153 on June 19.

The death toll in the country now stands at 3,755, while recoveries increased by 4,283 to 77,75, raising the overall recovery ratio from 37% to 41.2%, according to the ministry’s data.

Health experts also confirmed the improving numbers in the South Asian country of over 220 million, which has conducted over 1.15 million tests so far.

“Despite increased testing capacity, the numbers are slowly reducing and we at Khyber Medical University have also observed the declining trend,” Arshad Javaid, the university’s vice chancellor, told Anadolu Agency.

Asad Umar, a federal minister leading Pakistan’s COVID-19 response, last week warned that infections could exceed one million by the end of July, if daily numbers continued to rise at the same rate.

However, on June 15, authorities identified hotspots in 20 big cities and enforced locality-based lockdowns — which the government has dubbed “smart lockdowns” — in the high-risk areas.

“The smart lockdown, apparently, has helped stem the spread of the virus to other areas,” Dr. Mohammad Akram, a pulmonologist based in the capital Islamabad, said.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization advised Pakistan to impose a two-week strict lockdown, declaring the country the second-most vulnerable to the pandemic after neighboring Afghanistan.

The recommendation came as infections skyrocketed when the government lifted its lockdown restrictions of varying strictness in late May, ahead of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, however, rejected the UN body’s suggestion, saying “smart lockdowns” were the only possible option for Pakistan because it “is a poor country … [with] no choice but to reopen.”

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