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COVID-19: Pakistan Coronavirus Cases Surge Past 25,000 As Government Set To Ease Lockdown

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Workers spray disinfectant along a street as a preventive measure against the spread of the coronavirus in Karachi.

The global death toll from the coronavirus has reached nearly 270,000 with more than 3.8 million infections confirmed, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the new respiratory illness.

Here's a roundup of COVID-19 developments in RFE/RL's broadcast regions.

Pakistan

Coronavirus cases in Pakistan surged past 25,000 on May 8, officials said, just hours before Islamabad was due to ease its lockdown measures.

Authorities recorded 1,574 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections nationwide to 25,837 -- one of the highest rates in the region after Iran, which has reported more than 103,000.

Pakistan, with a population of some 220 million people, has suffered 594 deaths due to COVID-19.

Despite the climbing figures, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said Pakistan will ease its lockdown beginning May 9, amid fears for the country's economy as it sinks into recession.

Khan said the easing of restrictions, aimed at helping the country's most impoverished citizens, would be lifted in phases.

Small markets and shops will be the first to open, with restricted hours, while big malls and other spaces that attract large crowds will remain closed for now.

Schools will stay shut until mid-July and a decision on reopening intercity transport would be made at a later, unspecified, date.

Khan warned people that the epidemic could get out of control if they did not take precautions. He added that restrictions could be restored if the outbreak worsens.

Russia

Russia has registered 10,669 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 187,859.

It was the sixth consecutive day that cases had risen by more than 10,000, but down on the May 7 record daily rise of 11,231.

The coronavirus crisis response center also reported 98 new fatalities from COVID-19, bringing the total death toll in Russia to 1,723.

Russia's relatively low official death rate has triggered criticism that the authorities may be covering up the real toll of the outbreak by failing to correctly identify coronavirus deaths as such, accusations that have been rejected by authorities.

But Russian officials say the outbreak in their country started later than in other parts of the world, allowing authorities to better prepare for the pandemic. Russia now has the fifth-largest number of cases in the world, according to a running tally by the Johns Hopkins University in the United States.

The residents of Moscow, which is in its sixth week of lockdown, must stay at home except when buying food and medicine. They must obtain a digital permit to travel anywhere by public or private transport.

President Vladimir Putin has voiced support for a plan put forward by Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin to gradually begin lifting some lockdown restrictions in the capital after May 12, allowing certain industrial activities to resume.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and TASS
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