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Pakistan using troops to help police enforce social distancing

Pakistan using troops to help police enforce social distancing
© Getty Images

Pakistan announced Friday that it will begin using the military to enforce social distancing rules as the country sees a new spike in coronavirus infections. 

The news from Prime Minister Imran Khan came the same day Pakistan confirmed 144 COVID-19 deaths in the previous 24 hours, bringing the country's total to 16,842 fatalities, according to The Associated Press

Out of Pakistan's population of approximately 220 million people, there have been more than 784,000 total COVID-19 cases. 

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Khan said Friday that while he is not planning on imposing a lockdown for now, citizens are warned that he could begin shutting down cities should the infection rates continue to rise. 

The AP reports that Pakistani authorities have struggled to enforce social distancing rules and other guidelines across the country. 

A top health official in Pakistan said this week that the South Asian country’s hospitals have been overwhelmed with coronavirus patients, putting a strain on its medical system. 

Rising coronavirus infections have also been seen in neighboring India, which is currently in second place for the most number of COVID-19 cases in the world with a total of more than 16.2 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University

On Thursday, Canada announced that it would be banning flights from Pakistan and India for a 30-day period due to the infections, as well as concerns on the rise of more transmissible coronavirus variants. 

Canadian Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said during a virtual press conference, “As we've seen with our third wave, the COVID-19 pandemic can change rapidly.” 

"New variants can spread even faster than before and our health system is feeling even more pressure than ever before,” Alghabra added. 

Radio-Canada reported that the ban on flights would not apply to essential cargo planes, including those carrying personal protective equipment and vaccines.