KARACHI, Pakistan

Pakistan on Tuesday reported over 1,300 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, as the government intends to further ease the lockdown restrictions from next week.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has long been advocating for a “smart” lockdown, said his government was going to reopen more industries, and businesses “to mitigate the miseries of poor and daily wage earners”.

Addressing the volunteers of the Corona Relief Tiger Force, a recently formed volunteer force to help the government in fight against coronavirus, in the capital Islamabad on Monday, Khan said he would formally announce reopening of many other industries and businesses in days to come.

However, in case of a spike in the COVID-19 cases, Khan warned, the government would impose another lockdown in the country.

In March, Pakistan had imposed a countrywide lockdown, closing down shops, markets, shopping centers, and offices except for emergency service, in a desperate move to curb the surging COVID-19 cases.

The shutdown will continue until May 9.

Last month, Khan had announced reopening of “low-risk” industries, including construction, agriculture, e-commerce, paper and packaging, and others to resume the business activities and to stem a deepening economic meltdown caused by the coronavirus crisis.

Fresh COVID-19 cases

The number of novel coronavirus cases in Pakistan, the second worst-hit country in the region after India, has risen to 21,501 with 1,315 new cases reported over the past 24 hours, the country’s Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

Another 24 patients died due to the virus across the country in a day, raising the toll to 486. Some 5,782 have recovered so far.

A bulk of the cases have been reported from northeastern Punjab, and southern Sindh provinces.

Since first appearing in Wuhan, China last December, the novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has spread to at least 187 countries and regions, with the US and Europe the hardest-hit areas.

More than 3.58 million cases have been reported worldwide, with the death toll surpassing 251,500 and nearly 1.17 million recoveries, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University in the US.

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