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Pakistan’s Upward Coronavirus Spiral Continues

A health worker wearing a protective face mask takes someone's medical history at the drive-through screening and testing facility for coronavirus in Karachi on April 7.

ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan’s upward spiral of new virus infections neared 145,000 on June 15 amid warnings from political leaders that the numbers could double by the end of June and were likely to hit a stunning 1.2 million by the end of July if Pakistan’s 220 million people continue to flout basic precautions like mask wearing.

Planning and Development Minister Asad Umer, who also heads the government’s COVID-19 command center, warned the virus will rampage through Pakistan unless there is “a change in our attitude toward the virus,” that ends the relentless refusal of most in Pakistan to social distance and wear masks in public.

Still he defended Pakistan’s easing on lockdown restrictions, saying the country’s economy would collapse under the burden of a total shutdown. Pakistan has stepped back on some easing of restrictions, closing markets on the weekend and extending closures of large wedding halls, restaurants, gymnasiums, and large gatherings.

Pakistan’s doctors have pleaded for stricter lockdowns, saying the struggling healthcare system is already straining under the escalating numbers of infections. On June 15, Pakistan reached 2,729 deaths since mid-March.