Pakistan has recorded more than 100,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to official health figures released on Monday. As the announcement was made hospitals warned they are running out of beds to treat patients.
4,728 new infections were identified in the last 24 hours, while the death toll reached 2,067 with 65 fresh fatalities, health officials added.
Out of the total 103,671 cases, Punjab has registered 38,903, Sindh 38,108, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 13,487, Balochistan 6,516, Islamabad 5,329, Gilgit-Baltistan 932 and Pakistan-occupied (Azad) Kashmir 396 cases, the Ministry of National Health Services reported.
Pakistan and neighbours India and Afghanistan have lagged behind Western nations in virus tolls, but experts warn a lack of testing or accurate reporting in rural areas could be hiding true figures.
Last week a leaked government report suggested there were nearly 700,000 infections in Lahore alone.
The south Asian nation, lifted its lockdown last month but publicised protocols for the reopening of markets, industries and public transport including mandatory wearing of masks and social distancing.
Doctors running out of beds
Doctors at some of Pakistans main hospitals were running out of beds, ventilators and other vital equipment.
“As the cases increase, more health care workers are also falling victim to the virus,” said Farooq Sahil, a doctor at Services Hospital Lahore.
Khizer Hayat, chairman of the Young Doctors Association of Punjab, said facilities across the province needed help.
“Hospitals are running out of beds; there aren’t enough ventilators given to us,” he told local news agencies.
In the southern port city of Karachi, health centers are turning away the sick, with a large sign near the entrance of the Indus hospital stating there was no room for coronavirus patients.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said he expected the virus to peak “towards the end of July, followed by a gradual downslide”.
Pakistan’s lockdown policy has been patchy at best, with Khan reluctant to call a nationwide shutdown in order to protect the economy.
Asad Umar, who heads the national coronavirus task force, announced that a package to relieve pressure on hospitals would include 1,000 new beds in major cities.
“The crisis is unfolding now as we have ceased to observe isolation,” said Sikander Ali Memon, who is leading Sindh province’s anti-virus efforts.
In southwestern Balochistan province, government spokesman Liaqat Shahwani told AFP the situation was serious, and authorities were struggling to cope.