Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has warned that the situation due to coronavirus pandemic "can further deteriorate" and "hospitals may not be able to cope" with the increasing number of COVID-19 patients, as authorities on Thursday reported 340 new cases, taking the tally to 4,414.
The Ministry of National Health Services reported that the number of patients in worst-hit Punjab province was 2,171, Sindh 1,128, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 560, Gilgit-Baltistan 213, Balochistan 212, Islamabad 102 and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir 28.
According to the ministry, 63 people have died due to the infection, including five in one day. A total of 572 people have recovered. Thirty one people are in critical condition.
The government is concerned over the steady rise in the cases despite more than two weeks of partial lockdown in the country that has badly hit the poor as well as affected the nation's economy.
Prime Minister Khan on Wednesday expressed concern that the situation "can further deteriorate" and "our hospitals may not be able to cope" with the increasing number of patients.
Pakistan is making frantic efforts to tackle the pandemic.
Khan has again warned the people to follow official guidelines on self-isolation or the virus would spread further.
He, however, defended his decision to not impose a total lockdown, saying over 50 million people were below the poverty line in the country and they could die of hunger if such a step is taken.
On Thursday, Khan launched the "Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme" to transfer a total of Rs 144 billion cash to 12 million poor families hit by the coronavirus crisis.
The monetary assistance would be distributed among the poor families during the next two-and-a-half weeks after biometric verification.
The government has extended partial lockdown till April 14 and constantly asking people to stay indoors and follow social distancing.
Khan said the decision about easing the countrywide lockdown will be taken after seeking inputs from all the provinces on April 14.
Addressing the to members of Balochistan's Provincial Cabinet and Parliaments in Quetta on Thursday afternoon, Khan said federal and provincial governments are working jointly to cope with the situation arising out of the coronavirus crisis.
He said that the National Command and Control Centre is minutely observing the situation across the country.