Friday, March 17, 2023

Pakistan: 3rd Wave of Covid-19, Closure of Educational institutions and Restrictions of NCOC

Karachi: National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) held meeting on Monday, in which NCOC decides to increase the restrictions on activities to decline the Covid-19 situation across the country. The meeting expressed grave concern over the current situation and unanimously agreed to implement the measures in cities and districts with over 8% positivity ratio to stop the virus from spreading.

The decisions were taken in a meeting of the NCOC; the nerve center of the government’s synchronized response to the pandemic, with the Federal Minister for Planning, Development, Reforms and Special Initiatives Asad Umar in the chair. This meeting happened in early morning on Monday, to take important decision regarding current situation of Covid-19. Pakistan is facing third wave of corona virus which seems more dangerous said by the health authorities.

Asad Umar Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives on Twitter said: “In the NCOC meeting this morning we decided to increase restrictions of activities contributing to a sharp increase in COVID-19 positivity. “The local administration has been directed to tighten the implementation of SOPs and crack down on violation that is taking place”

Asad Umer

Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar had dismissed rumors in meeting that the country was heading towards a “complete lockdown”.

The discussion revolved around the rising number of coronavirus cases and the government’s response towards it. Rumors of authorities contemplating a “complete lockdown” across the country were discussed.

Responding to a question, the NCOC chief had shot down the rumors.

Complete lockdown is not the solution,” he said. “We tried to explain that to people during the first wave of the corona virus but they did not understand. You cannot shut down the entire country and steal people’s livelihoods,” added the minister.

The meeting agreed that the policy of 50% staff working from home policy would continue in all public and private offices as well as courts. Also the inter-city public transport would be limited to operate at 50% of its available capacity but the rail service was allowed to operate at 70% of its capacity

There was a consensus in the meeting that compulsory mask wearing would be ensured by all federating units. The forum directed the provinces to ensure reduced presence at courts because large gatherings of people could become a potential threat of virus proliferation

However, in areas where with the positivity ratio was less than 8%, the ongoing non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) would continue to be enforced based on risk assessment and virus prevalence, a statement issued after the meeting said.

It said that indoor dining will be banned and outdoor dining would be restricted till 10 p.m. only, adding that takeaways will, however, continue.

Indoor gatherings of any sort will also be banned, while outdoor marriage functions will be allowed for two hours until 10 p.m. with guests restricted to 300.

 The forum ordered closures of shrines, cinema houses, contact sports, festival, cultural and other events. Amusement parks will also be closed but walking or jogging tracks would remain open subject to strict adherence to Covid related Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

Measures include “implementation of broader lockdowns with stringent enforcement protocols based on risk assessment”, the statement said. “No mobility will be allowed except emergencies.”

Owing to the impending tourism season in the northern areas of the country, the meeting decided that the federating units would implement stringent protocols for tourism in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and tourist spots elsewhere.

As of March 22, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country rose to 630,471 with 3,669 new infections.

Throughout the country, 43,498 tests were conducted during the past 24 hours, while 20 people succumbed to the disease.

Image Courtesy Express Tribune

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