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Pakistan Battles 3rd Phase of COVID-19, Imposes Restrictions in Cities

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Pakistan on Monday said it had put virus hotspots in densely populated cities under lockdown as the country battled a third wave of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

“Smart lockdown has been imposed in at least seven major cities of the central Punjab province and the capital Islamabad,’’ Sajid Shah, a spokesperson for the Health Ministry said.

There are restrictions on people’s movements and a ban on gathering indoors as well as early closure of parks, markets and a shutdown of educational institutions for two weeks.

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Wearing a face mask and maintaining of social distance have been made mandatory again as schools have been shut twice in the past year and then reopened.

“The new strain of the coronavirus discovered in Britain was responsible for a rapid increase in infections,” Punjab Health Minister Yasmin Rashid told the media on Monday.

The new restrictions were imposed as the country witnessed a steady increase in new infections.

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The country has so far reported 607,453 cases of COVID-19 and 13,537 related deaths.

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At least 2,253 new cases and 29 deaths were reported during the last 24 hours, according to the health ministry.

Last month, Pakistan kick-started the vaccination of front-line health workers, but the campaign received a lukewarm response as many were sceptical about the vaccine, a gift from China.

The country has now started the vaccination of people aged 60 and above and is awaiting the delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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Pakistan has secured 17 million doses of the vaccine and delivery is expected to start by next week. (dpa)

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