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Pakistan Considers Lockdown Amid Fears Of Second Wave Of Infections


A worker disinfects the shoes of students upon their arrival at a school in Lahore. Infection numbers have spiked since schools reopened in mid-September.

Pakistani authorities on October 21 warned they could reimpose strict lockdown measures, as millions of people flouted guidelines despite fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections.

The warning was issued by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), a body that includes civilian and military leaders and oversees the country’s response to COVID-19.

“If no improvement in SOPs compliance is observed, NCOC will have no choice but again revert to strict measures leading to re-closures of services,” the NCOC said in a statement.

It said public transport, markets, wedding halls, restaurants, and public gatherings were "perceived high-risk sectors." While the authorities have declared people must wear face masks and practice social distancing, few people follow these guidelines.

Tens of thousands of people attended several political rallies during the past week. Experts described them as "superspreader" events.

Infection numbers have spiked since schools reopened in mid-September. The authorities have since closed more than 30 educational institutes in the capital.

According to the NCOC, 660 new infections and 19 related deaths were reported during the past 24 hours. The country has so far reported 324,744 coronavirus infections and a death toll of 6,692.

According to a survey conducted by the Gallup polling institute in September, 75 percent of respondents in Pakistan believe the pandemic is under control, while 46 percent believe the outbreak is a foreign conspiracy.