ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday warned that Pakistan could be hit by a fourth wave of the coronavirus if the people violated regulations to check the spread of the deadly disease that has claimed the lives of over 22,000 people in the country.
Khan issued a video message for the people as the number of new COVID-19 cases have increased dramatically this week.
The prime minister said the Delta variant of COVID-19 -- first identified in India -- could increase the rate of hospitalisations and deaths in Pakistan, giving the examples of Afghanistan and Indonesia which were reeling due to the delta variant.
Khan asked the people to continue their cooperation with the administration and wear masks at all places.
He said wearing masks was important at "restaurants, wedding gatherings, and indoor spaces, because such spots are extreme contributors to spread of the virus."
He reiterated that a lockdown cannot be imposed as it affects the economically weak sections.
"When you impose a lockdown, the most affected segment is poor, and for the sake of our people, our economy, and our elders, I urge everyone to wear masks," he said.
Khan asked the people to follow the guidelines during the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha, when traditionally people sacrifice animals in rituals among massive crowds.
He urged the people to get vaccinated at the earliest.
"If we survive the fourth wave, we will be able to save our country," he said.
The prime minister's appeal came as Pakistan detected 1,683 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, taking the national tally to 967,633.
According to the Ministry of National Health Services, another 22 people have died from the disease in this period, taking the COVID-19 death toll to 22,493.
The number of daily cases dropped from four digits to three digits on June 25 and remained below 1,000 till 29 June.
However, the number of daily cases has again seen a spike.