ISLAMABAD: On Wednesday, the country’s nerve centre for Covid-19 reaction introduced numerous steps to curb the increasing number of cases of coronavirus in Pakistan, including reducing large public meetings and the restrictions in high-risk regions.
As part of the second phase of steps to stem the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the new guidelines come days after the government ordered work-from – home policies for half of the workers of both public and private sector offices and comparatively larger smart lockdowns in the country’s urban centres.
During the last 24 hours, Pakistan has reported at least 1,700 cases, the highest in more than three months. At least 21 individuals succumbed to the virus over the same time and over 55 were deemed vital.
Chaired today by Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar, the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) meeting discussed the epidemic curve data and the prevalence of the disease in the region.
NCOC has once again recommended to ban all large public gatherings. Rapid increase in positivity requires urgent steps to save lives & livelihoods. Since mid October, when NCC first considered the NCOC recommendation to ban large public gatherings daily cases have nearly tripled
— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) November 11, 2020
“Since the first NCC consideration of the NCOC recommendation to ban broad public meetings in mid-October, regular cases have almost tripled,” Minister Umar said in a tweet.
In order to give a message to the whole country to take preventive action and obey sops, national political leadership across the political spectrum needs to show leadership, “the minister urged.”
The national political leadership across the political spectrum needs to demonstrate leadership to send a message to the entire nation for taking preventive steps and follow sop's. Consensus needed in NCC for taking this decision, which has been delayed due to lack of consensus
— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) November 11, 2020
The forum was told that the number of cases has almost tripled since the NCOC ‘s previous proposal to the National Coordination Committee (NCC) to prohibit large public meetings and outdoor activities on October 12 and then on November 3. However, the parties have not reached any consensus yet.
The forum was told that there is a need to check the pattern with respect to Covid-19’s positivity ratio in educational institutions. A conference of provincial education ministers to review the same pattern will be chaired by the federal education minister on Nov 16.
Recommendations for a decision and its implementation would be discussed with the provinces following consultative consultations. It will require the recommendation of the NCOC for an early and prolonged winter break to reduce the effects of the transmission of illness and ensure students’ safety and wellbeing.
The body’s other suggestions are to restrict public meetings to a maximum of 500 people — political , economic, artistic, culture and civil society in nature.
The NCOC has also released marriage ceremony rules, restricting them to outdoor activities with an upper limit of 500 persons, to be applicable as of Nov 20.
In the meeting, it was also proposed that restaurants and eateries be limited to outdoor dining before 10 pm and take-aways. The closing of shrines in the nation and early closure of markets with specified ‘safe-days’ were other recommendations.
Furthermore, the country’s Covid-19 Response Center proposed growing controls for high-risk industries. Ses immediate recommendations were forwarded for final approval to the NCC.
Over the past few months, the NCOC has valued adherence to SOPs in mosques, but has acknowledged a current deterioration in enforcement and encouraged stakeholders to continue to follow the procedures in place.
The Response Centre has proposed to the NCC that limitations on high-risk industries and, in particular, wide public meetings should be expanded. It proposed immediate and emergency steps to the NCC for full approval by all stakeholders after consensus.
Earlier, the NCOC reported that Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Multan, Hyderabad, Gilgit, Muzzafarabad, Mirpur, Peshawar, Quetta, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur and Abbottabad would be subject to the second phase of precautionary measures.