"Coronavirus is going nowhere, at least this year. That means we have to live with it following safety guidelines," Khan said.
 
"No strategy"
 
Health experts say the drastic surge in coronavirus cases has already overburdened the country's public healthcare system.
 
"This is an alarming situation. An increase in testing will likely see the reported numbers increase to millions. I fear the pandemic is also becoming more lethal in Pakistan," said Khizar Hayat, chairman of the Young Doctors Association (YDA). "There is increased local spread and public hospitals in Lahore are packed with COVID-19 patients." 

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (photo: Reuters/P. Song)
"We have to live with the virus": Pakistan's Prime Minister has decided his country will have to best out the world's worst pandemic since the Spanish flu of 1918. His government has been slammed for a lack of policy on how to tackle coronavirus, lifting all lockdown measures and announcing the resumption of tourism as the country is hit by a dramatic spike in cases

The government, however, continues to downplay the pandemic threat, with Yasmeen Rashid, Punjab province's health minister, saying "the recent survey is an estimate from a small sample size and is not accurate." With reference to the provincial health department's report, she added that "people should not panic."

Prime Minister Khan has repeatedly spoken against imposing a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus. In his latest press conference, he even announced the resumption of tourism activities in the country.

Khan has been slammed for an apparent "lack of policy" to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Critics say his government has been sending mixed signals about the lockdown, which has resulted in people not taking it seriously.

The prime minister has also been lenient with Islamic groups, even though the primary coronavirus infections were detected among pilgrims returning from Iran and among Sunni hardliners who refused to follow physical distancing rules in their assemblies.

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