Coronavirus spreading in Pakistan at one of the fastest rates in the world

People sit outside a closed market of a restricted area that is sealed in smart lockdown, in Karachi, Pakistan. EPA-EFE/SHAHZAIB AKBER

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The coronavirus is spreading in Pakistan at one of the fastest rates in the world, and overwhelmed hospitals are turning away patients, the Associated Press reports.

But the government is pushing ahead with opening up the country, trying to salvage a near-collapsed economy where millions have already slid into poverty from pandemic restrictions.

Further complicating the dilemma, as the government pins its main hope for stemming the virus rampage on social distancing and masks, many in the public ignore calls to use them.

Millions crowd markets and mosques. Hard-line clerics tell followers to trust that faith will protect them. Many call the virus a hoax. Even some government officials dismiss warnings, saying traffic accidents kill more people.

The rate of new cases in Pakistan leaped from around 2,000-3,000 a day in late May to as high as 6,800 a day in mid-June.

Deaths are nearing 150 a day. So far, more than 180,000 people have been infected in this country of 220 million, and the government on Sunday said that the number could total 1.2 million people in August. Authorities have reported 3,590 deaths.

Read more via AP

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