Covid curbs may return if SOPs violated, warns NCOC
SAPM confirms a ‘definitive uptick in cases’ as death toll falls to three months low
The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Monday expressed its grave concern over the flouting of the coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs), as health officials confirmed a “definitive uptick in Covid cases, percentage positivity, since last week.
According to the daily update of the pandemic issued by the NCOC the single-day tally of new infections remained above 1,000 level, mainly fuelled by its rapid spread in Sindh. However, the death toll from the infectious disease during the past 24 hours was the lowest since February.
Dr Faisal Sultan, the special assistant to prime minister on health, said on Monday that there had been a small but noticeable increase in coronavirus cases in the country and appealed to the masses to continue following the government's mandated coronavirus SOPs.
“Covid data from last week show small but definitive uptick in cases, percentage positivity and other parameters. Masks, avoidance of large crowds and continued vaccination remain crucial tools in this work,” Dr Sultan tweeted.
The NCOC – the nerve centre of the government’s synchronised strategy to contain the global pandemic – in a meeting chaired by Planning Minister Asad Umar, expressed its grave concern over the flouting of the SOPs, which was the cause of the spread of the pandemic.
The meeting was informed that SOPs’ violations were observed at restaurants, indoor gymnasiums, wedding halls, transport, markets, tourism and other sectors. The meeting warned that strict restrictions might be reimposed if the SOPs were not observed.
It was decided that a special meeting of the NCOC, comprising all the chief secretaries would be convened to review the violations of SOPs. “In this regard, a strict mechanism for the implementation of SOPs and measures to expedite the vaccination process will also be reviewed,” a press release said.
Read more: NCOC relaxes more virus-induced restrictions
During the meeting, a vaccination verification portal was also launched. The purpose of the portal is to make the vaccine verification process possible in places where vaccination was mandatory for admission.
The forum directed all the vaccinating staff and the general public to ensure that their vaccination record was recorded in the National Immunisation Management System (NIMS) during the vaccination process.
The NCOC also increased the number of Covid vaccine centres to 59 where Moderna vaccines will be administered. Out of these centres, 15 are in Punjab, 10 in Sindh, 14 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), 4 in Balochistan, 5 each in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), 6 in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B).
The meeting was also informed that 3,000 Afghan students had started arriving to different educational institutions of Pakistan. The forum noted that effective coronavirus testing had been arranged and the students found positive would be sent back, while the rest would observe quarantine for 10 days.
The NCOC on Monday reported the lowest single-day death toll from Covid-19 since February, but said that the national daily tally of new infections remained above 1,000 level for the sixth consecutive day, mainly fuelled by its rapid spread in Sindh.
In its daily update of the disease, the NCOC reported 19 deaths from coronavirus over the past 24 hours, three more than the lowest single-day death toll of 2021, on February 21. The nationwide death toll from the disease since the pandemic broke out in February last year rose to 22,427.
The number of new infections, however, remained over 1,000 for the sixth consecutive day following the lifting of almost all lockdown restrictions nationwide. Some 1,347 new Covid-19 cases were reported, pushing the country's overall caseload to 963,660.
The NCOC said that the number of active cases in the country crossed the 33,000 mark and stood at 33,299 on Monday, including 1,849 patients in critical condition at various Covid-dedicated facilities. The country's total recoveries had increased to 907,934, it added.
The new cases were detected from 45,245 tests conducted in the country over the past 24 hours, according to the NCOC. It added that the national positivity rate was 2.97%. Out of the 1,347 new cases, 940 cases were reported from Sindh, followed by 124 in Punjab and 112 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
(WITH INPUT FROM ANADOLU AGENCY)