The number of coronavirus cases in Pakistan crossed 6,500 on Thursday after the country reported the highest daily jump in over a week.
The Health Ministry said 520 people tested positive for COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, raising the total number of cases to 6,505.
This was the second highest single-day tally for Pakistan after 577 cases were reported on April 6.
Most of the new cases were confirmed in the southern Sindh and northeastern Punjab provinces.
The ministry confirmed that 17 more patients -- the highest daily total yet -- died from the virus over the past 24 hours, bringing the countrywide death toll to 124.
Recoveries rose to 1,645 as 199 patients were discharged from hospitals since Wednesday.
The spike in new cases came just a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan extended the nationwide lockdown by two weeks.
The government, however, eased restrictions to allow the country's construction, agriculture, chemical, and other related industries to resume work.
Electricians, plumbers, and barbers have also been permitted to restart their businesses with proper safety procedures.
The move has been disapproved by health experts who fear it could cause an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases.
The government, for its part, has said the prolonged lockdown severely impacted Pakistan’s poor and the labor class, and might have led to civil unrest.
Traders, who had delayed reopening their businesses for a couple of days on the government's request, are also set to resume work from Friday.
Another point of concern is the opposition of several Muslim clerics to the government’s orders against congregational prayers.
Over the past few days, some leading clerics have said they will resume daily prayers at mosques despite government directives, raising fears of increased transmission of the virus.
The novel coronavirus has spread to 185 countries and regions since emerging in China last December, with the U.S. and Europe now the hardest-hit areas in the world.
More than 2.07 million cases have been reported worldwide, with the death toll over 137,100 and almost 518,000 recoveries, according to data compiled by the U.S.’ Johns Hopkins University.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.