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Conspiracy theories help coronavirus take root in Pakistan

Religious fervor and distrust of government combine with deadly results

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan gave a televised address in March in which he said: "Ninety percent of cases of coronavirus are normal flu, and clear up without any treatment."   © Reuters

KARACHI -- The novel coronavirus is spreading faster in Pakistan than almost anywhere else in the world, yet most people do not take the pandemic seriously due to misinformation and conspiracy theories surrounding the virus.

As of Friday, COVID-19 cases in Pakistan had reached 125,933. Infections have risen by more than 500% over the last week. But despite the alarming numbers, the government has relaxed lockdowns across the country and has even decided to reopen the tourism industry.

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