Pakistan wins rare, fragile success against novel coronavirus

Walking through the Karachi Company bazaar in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, the coronavirus pandemic seems a world away.

Groups of shoppers gather at the small stalls that line the alleys of the market, selling everything from plastic stools to jewellery and colourful garments. Hardly anyone wears a mask, as they haggle over prices and stall owners shout to try and get the attention of potential customers.

“The danger is much less now,” says Sheikh Usman, 32, who runs a small garment stall and has not worn a protective face mask for months. “The restrictions should be finished, because the virus is over now.”

With a population of 220 million, a ramshackle health and hygiene infrastructure and densely packed urban neighbourhoods, Pakistan was considered by many to be a prime candidate to see the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Six months after registering its first case, however, active cases in Pakistan are continuing to steadily decline, with the number of deaths recorded in a day often down to single digits.

The country has seen 293,261 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, with 6,341 related deaths, according to official data. Save for single-day blips, active cases have been steadily declining since hitting a peak in June, currently standing at 10,091, their lowest level since late April.

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