As virus spikes, Pakistan says there’s no choice but to open


Overwhelmed hospitals are forced to turn away patients

Coronavirus graves, Pakistan

FILE – In this Jan. 6, 2020 file photo, rescue workers and family members carry the casket of Khursheed Bibi, who died due to coronavirus, for her burial at a cemetery in Hyderabad, Pakistan. Pakistan ranks among countries hardest hit by the coronavirus with infections soaring beyond 18,000, while the government, which has opened up the country hoping to salvage a near collapsed economy, warns a stunning 1.2 million Pakistanis could be infected by the end of August. (AP Photo/Pervez Masih, File)

ISLAMABAD (AP) – Coronavirus infections are accelerating in Pakistan, and overwhelmed hospitals are forced to turn away patients. Still, the government says it has no choice but to open up, lifting some restrictions, to salvage a near-collapsed economy. Since the pandemic began, the number of people living in poverty has risen to 40%, up from 30% of the population of 220 million people. But with stores, markets and public transport open, the infection rate has shot up. Authorities urge the public to wear masks and practice social distancing, but few do, and many dismiss the danger of the pandemic, buying into conspiracy theories.

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