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Govt urges precaution as Covid positivity rate inches up

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ISLAMABAD: The country’s coronavirus positivity ratio has gone above 2 per cent for the first time in six weeks, said Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Sunday, emphasising the need to follow precautions against the virus.

A day earlier, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) warned about the increasing risks of Covid-19 spread.

Similarly, Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood cautioned the public to follow the standard operating procedures, especially regarding large gatherings.

“Large public gatherings must not take place. These alone can unleash the second wave,” the minister cautioned.

However, Shafqat had on Thursday said that the federal government would not close educational institutions again. “20 million children are out of schools, it is a big challenge to bring them to school, we would utilise all of our resources to educate these children,” he had said during an address to students at Batrasi Cadet College in Mansehra.

The district health department in Islamabad had recommended that the government impose a “smart” lockdown in areas where coronavirus cases are increasing, a notification showed, and these focused lockdowns are to target street number 38, 44, 45, 46, 47, and 48 and on Sawan road adjacent to street 48, in sector G-10/4. In Sector I-8/2, street number 25 and 29 have been sealed, while in Sector G-9/4, two streets number 85 and 89 have been sealed after coronavirus cases surfaced in the area. The district health authorities had recommended imposing a micro lockdown in these areas in view of the increasing cases of the disease.

Similarly, from the start of October, the Sindh government imposed mini-lockdowns in different parts of Karachi, including Manghopir, Creek Vista Apartment in Phase VIII of DHA and sub-division of Saddar.

This approach is also being followed in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), particularly in Muzaffarabad and Rawalakot district, and officials have been directed to come up with comprehensive and effective suggestions within two days, according to an official handout.

“Mini smart lockdowns have been imposed in Karachi, Islamabad and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Instructions have been issued to administrations across the country to ensure that precautionary measures are followed. But like in the past, success is impossible without the cooperation of the people,” Asad tweeted.

Furthermore, federal ministers, including Fawad Chaudhry, Sheikh Rasheed and Asad on Saturday had issued advisories to the opposition regarding a delay in the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) rallies due to rising Covid-19 cases.

“I believe political parties should give proof of responsibility and postpone rallies and processions for the next three months. The opposition should also postpone its movement till next year and respect life,” Fawad said in a tweet.

The appeals from ministers cane after Punjab confirmed 203 new Covid-19 infections in the last 24 hours — the first time since August 15 that the province has recorded more than 200 cases — taking its total infections to 100,687. Previously, the highest number was recorded at 187 on September 26.

To tackle another form of public gatherings, the NCOC had introduced new rules for marriage halls which limit weddings to two hours, a curfew of 10 pm, and a maximum of 300 and 500 guests for indoor and outdoor weddings respectively.

According to the NCOC statement, “Public gatherings are banned due to coronavirus pandemic around the world and the organisation of crowded events could endanger the national success against the virus.”

According to the latest data released by the NCOC, as many as 28,893 samples were tested during this period, out of which 666 detected positive. The overall number of Covid-19 cases across the country has reached 318,932 with the addition of the new cases. There are 8,904 active Covid-19 cases as 303,458 coronavirus patients have recovered in the country whereas 483 patients are in critical condition.

More than 3.8 million tests have been conducted in the country so far. Sindh remains the worst-hit province by the pandemic in terms of cases followed by Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Islamabad. Till now 140,131 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Sindh, 100,687 in Punjab, 38,329 in KP, 17,296 in Islamabad, 15,520 in Balochistan, 3,045 in AJK and 3,924 in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB).

Furthermore, 2,549 individuals have lost their lives to the pandemic in Sindh, 2,257 in Punjab, 1,263 in KP, 146 in Balochistan, 188 in Islamabad, 89 in GB and 78 in AJK.

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Written by Zernab Farooqui

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