The partial lockdown in Pakistan’s Sindh province—which includes Karachi—is set to lapse today.
The lockdown was prompted by a surge of COVID-19 cases in the province—likely resulting from Eid al-Adha related activities—which overwhelmed many hospitals in Karachi. Currently, there are about 400,000 total cases in Sindh.
The partial lockdown requires most markets and restaurants to close and suspends transportation between cities. However, Karachi’s importance to Pakistan’s economy has prompted some federal ministers to vehemently oppose the lockdown in the province.
Expect the lockdown to expire today but be renewed in August. Lockdowns are currently being imposed in other Pakistani provinces as well as nearby South Asian countries due to recent spikes in COVID cases across the region. While Pakistan’s aversion to a lockdown in the Sindh province for economic reasons such as spikes in unemployment and large financial losses for retailers may prevent an immediate renewal, Karachi hospitals will likely continue to be overwhelmed over the coming weeks. Another lockdown will be quite unpopular with the populace and will likely negatively impact the public approval of Pakistan’s leadership. In the long-term, expect Pakistan’s vaccination drive to help control hospitalizations and reduce the need for future lockdowns.
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Keegan is an analyst on the Current Developments team. Contributing regularly to the Daily Brief, he focuses on on East Asian affairs.