dpa/GNA – Pakistan on Sunday banned all public gatherings including marriage ceremonies as part of ever-stricter measures to bring down a rising number of new coronavirus infections.

“All kind of gatherings (indoor/outdoor) will be banned with immediate effect. This will include all social, cultural, political, sports and other events,” said the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), the body responsible for the country’s response to the pandemic.

Virus hotspots or cities with higher rates of infection would be put under more restrictions from March 29 and there would be a “complete ban on marriages” from April 5.

The disease was spreading fast and filling the hospitals up with critically ill patients, NCOC head and planning minister Asad Umar said.

Earlier this month, virus hotspots were put under lockdown, wearing a face mask was made mandatory, schools were shut and markets and parks closed early.

Flights from 12 countries including Brazil were also suspended.

In the country’s biggest province of Punjab, the failure to wear a mask can result in a jail term.

On Sunday, Pakistan reported the highest number of Covid-19 cases over a 24-hour period in more than eight months. At least 4,767 new infections and 57 virus-related deaths were reported by the Health Ministry.

The country has so far recorded 654,591 cases and 14,215 deaths in total.

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