The Latest: Pakistan’s daily infections drop as testing cut

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s daily infection rate dropped below 3,000 for the second straight day, though medical experts caution it may be due to less testing.

Barely 21,000 tests for the coronavirus are carried out each day, compared to a peak of nearly 33,000. Still some medical professionals, particularly in the eastern city of Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s Punjab province where nearly 60% of the country’s 220 million people live, are suggesting the virus may have peaked in June.

Pakistan’s prime minister has mandated masks but enforcement and use are erratic and social distancing is limited. Still the government has implemented lockdowns on at least 800 markets, businesses and residential areas where hospots of the infection have emerged.

As of Wednesday, Pakistan has recorded 237,489 infections with 2,980 new cases recorded in the last 24 hours among 21,951 tests conducted. So far 4,922 people have died of the virus, with 80 deaths recorded in the last 24 hours.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has resisted complete lockdowns, saying they would hit the poorest hardest. The poverty rate in Pakistan has climbed from around 30% to 40%, according to economists.



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CANBERRA, Australia — Prime Minister Scott Morrison says a shutdown of Australia’s second-largest city is necessary and promised continuing financial support for businesses that fear they won’t survive a second lockdown.

The Victoria state government said Melbourne and part of its surrounds will lock down for six weeks from Wednesday night because the rate of coronavirus spread was unsustainable. The state also reported another 134 coronavirus cases.

Morrison said the federal government’s medical advice concurred the move was necessary but he hoped the time frame could be shorter.

Australia’s seven other states and territories would continue to relax pandemic restrictions, the prime minister said.

“Let’s remember that seven states and territories around the country remain in a very strong position when it comes to our response to COVID-19,” Morrison said. “That’s what we’re seeking to continue to protect.”

Breaches of infection controls at Melbourne hotels where international travelers are required to isolate for 14 days have been blamed for much of the disease spread. Morrison said he wanted to reduce the numbers of exemptions from Australia’s travel ban because of the strain on hotel quarantine.

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