ISLAMABAD, Pakistan 

More than 3,300 new coronavirus cases took Pakistan’s total past 240,000, while over 60 fatalities moved the death toll closer to 5,000, authorities said on Thursday.

According to the Health Ministry, 3,359 more infections pushed the overall case count to 240,847, keeping the country at number 12 worldwide in terms of COVID-19 cases.

Infections in the South Asian country have gradually declined since last month, with Wednesday’s figure marking a fall of over 3,000 from the peak of 6,895 hit on June 13.

Fatalities have also decreased significantly over recent weeks, falling to 61 a day earlier from a record high of 153 on June 19.

The death toll in Pakistan now stands at 4,983, while 2,193 patients remain in critical condition across the country, the ministry said.

Recoveries have increased to 145,311, raising the overall ratio to over 60% from 42% in June.

More than 1.49 million tests have been conducted so far in the country of over 220 million, according to the ministry’s data.

Health experts believe the improving numbers are due to locality-based lockdowns — termed “smart lockdowns” by the government — enforced in high-risk areas in 20 major cities since last month.

Prime Minister Imran Khan also hailed the strategy’s success on Wednesday.

“We have opted for a smart lockdown policy, which has been very successful,” he said in an address to a virtual summit of the International Labor Organization.

However, local media reports suggest the decline in COVID-19 cases could be because of reduced testing, with daily test numbers falling to around 24,000 from over 32,000 in June.

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