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ISLAMABAD: The Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Asad Umar, on Friday, while criticising the Sindh government, said that the overall coronavirus situation across the country was getting better, but in Sindh, the situation was otherwise.

Briefing media here at the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), he said that there was a significant lack of improvement in Sindh, particularly in the provincial capital, Karachi.

The minister said that the number of deaths, patients admitted to hospitals, and patients on ventilators had gone down. He advised the people to follow the guidelines given by the government to avert the spread of Covid-19, which, so far, had infected over 220,000 people in Pakistan, and claimed nearly 4,600 lives.

Crediting this development to citizens following precautionary measures to curb the spread of the virus, Umar said if that continued, the country's situation would continue to improve.

"However, there is only one area where we are not seeing that much improvement, which is in Sindh, especially Karachi," he said.

Umar maintained that to address this, the NCOC team held a meeting with the provincial chief secretary and the provincial health minister, and it was working on a way to replicate the results from the rest of the country, in Sindh.

He also urged the citizens to remain mindful of the fact that an improvement was only being seen because they were following precautionary measures. "Don't take this to mean that the pandemic is going away on its own and you can do whatever you want," he cautioned, adding that a lapse in following preventive measures could cause the number of cases to rise again.

"I had earlier warned that our cases could reach 1.2 million by July end, if we don't take action or follow preventive measures. But because people are following precautionary measures and the administration is also taking action [...] this number may be less than 400,000."

According to the latest data released by the NCOC and provincial authorities, the total Covid-19 cases in Pakistan have reached 223,728 with 4,611 deaths. Punjab has recorded 1,216 new cases over the past 24 hours, according to the government's Covid-19 portal.

The province also recorded 35 new deaths. The total number of cases in Punjab is now 78,956, while the death toll is 1,819. As of now, Punjab has 43,351 active cases, according to government's figures.

Sindh reported 1,496 coronavirus cases and 22 deaths during the past 24 hours, according to Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, making it the first province to cross 90,000 cases.

In a statement issued by the CM House, the chief minister said 10,027 tests were conducted during the past 24 hours, taking the total to 90,721 cases.

The death toll has risen to 1,459.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has registered 336 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 taking the total to 27,506.

According to the latest data, the province, over the past 24 hours has recorded 19 more deaths taking the total to 1,002. During the past 24 hours, 805 patients recovered taking the tally to 15,520.

Balochistan has reported 58 new cases of the novel coronavirus, taking the provincial tally to 10,666.

The death toll in the province has risen to 122 after one more person died from the virus in the last 24 hours.

Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir have collectively reported 151 new cases and one death over the past 24 hours, the government's Covid-19 portal said.

The federal capital recorded 113 new cases, while GB reported 13. The AJK reported 25 new cases and one death. No casualties were reported in Islamabad and the GB.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020