Pakistan reported almost 4,500 coronavirus cases on Thursday, the second straight day of more than 4,000 infections in a country firmly in the midst of a fourth COVID-19 wave driven by the infectious Delta variant.
A total of 4,497 more cases were reported in the past 24 hours, the highest daily number since April 30, pushing the overall count past 1.02 million, according to Health Ministry data.
Fatalities also spiked to 76, the highest figure in almost 50 days, bringing the nationwide death toll to 23,209.
At least 937,354 people have recovered from COVID-19 infections in Pakistan so far, the data showed.
A majority of the new infections – 2,672 – were in the southern Sindh province, largely due to a surge in infections in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and financial hub.
According to media reports, the positivity rate in Karachi was over 22% on Wednesday and 26.32% – the highest on record yet – a day earlier.
Government officials warned earlier this month that Pakistan is facing a new wave of infections sparked by the Delta variant, the highly transmissible strain first identified in India that has spread rapidly across the globe.
Since hitting a high of 4,696 cases on April 30, Pakistan’s daily virus count steadily declined for nearly two months, falling to 663 by June 21.
The situation, though, has deteriorated in recent weeks, despite an expedited nationwide vaccination drive.
Over 27 million vaccine doses have been administered in Pakistan to date, and anyone 18 or over is eligible for vaccination.
However, only a little more than 5.9 million people are fully vaccinated in the country of over 200 million.
A record of 849,634 shots were given in the past 24 hours, according to official data.
Asad Umar, the minister heading Pakistan’s COVID-19 response, announced more measures on Thursday aimed at increasing the country’s vaccination rate.
“Unvaccinated teachers and students [aged 18 or above] will not be allowed to enter their schools, colleges, and universities after Aug. 31,” he said.
Government employees, law enforcement personnel, hospitality sector workers, employees of marriage halls and transport companies, as well as shopkeepers will also be barred from their workplaces if they are not vaccinated by Aug. 31, the minister warned.