Pakistan's COVID-19 cases could reach up to 12 lakh by the end of July, a top minister said on Sunday, as the country registered a record 6,825 infections in the last 24 hours, taking the tally to 139,230.
Minister for Planning Asad Umar, who is in-charge of the national response to the coronavirus pandemic, told a press conference that the current tally could double by the end of this month to reach 300,000 cases.
"We're in mid-June and our cases have reached approximately 150,000. It saddens me to say that based on our current trajectory, experts have projected that our cases could double by the end of June," he said.
Umar said that "with the current trajectory, the novel coronavirus could reach 10 lakh to 12 lakh by the end of July."
Noting that it was just a projection which can be avoided if the government and the people work together to stop it, he urged people to get serious about the disease and wear masks.
"Research has indicated that wearing masks is a verified way of curbing the spread of COVID-19, by up to 50 per cent," he said.
He said that the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), which is headed by him, had made face masks mandatory at public places.
He also advised people to strictly follow the social distancing rules.
"We are now at the stage where we will start taking administrative action against those who are not wearing masks or maintaining social distancing," he warned.
Umar said that smart lockdown would be imposed on various hotspots across the country.
Talking about the testing capacity, he said that the government would enhance the current 30,000 per day test capacity to 100,000 per day by the end of July.
"We were only testing 500 people at the start (of the pandemic). Now we are able to conduct 30,000 tests per day and the NCOC has decided to take our (testing) capacity to more than 100,000 tests per day by the end of July," he said.
His warning came as Pakistan recorded the highest number of 6,825 coronavirus cases in a single day as its tally of the COVID-19 patients reached 139,230.
The Ministry of National Health Services reported that 81 patients died of the disease in the last 24 hours, taking the death toll to 2,632.
A total of 51,735 have recovered from the disease.
However, the number of patients in the two largest provinces of Punjab and Sindh crossed 50,000 each.
The data showed that Punjab detected 52,601 cases, Sindh 51,518, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 17,450, Balochistan 8,028, Islamabad 7,934, Gilgit-Baltistan 1,095 and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir 604.
So far, 868,565 tests have been conducted across the country, including 29,546 in the last 24 hours.