Prime Minister Imran Khan. SCREENGRAB

PM warns of looming fourth Covid wave

Imran urges nation to strictly follow SOPs; take special care on Eidul Azha

Our Correspondent July 08, 2021

Prime Minister Imran Khan warned the nation on Thursday that a fourth wave of the novel coronavirus could hit the country if people continue to flout the Covid-induced standard operating procedures (SOPs), urging the masses to follow precautionary measures to avoid lockdowns.

In a brief address to the nation, the premier said that the Delta variant of the virus had become a major cause of concern in the world, which originated in India and had spread to Bangladesh, Indonesia and Afghanistan, causing oxygen shortages there.

 “After a decline, [coronavirus] cases are rising again and we are concerned that Indian variant cases are being reported in Pakistan as well,” Imran said. “We can avoid the fourth wave of coronavirus if we comply with Covid-19 SOPs particularly mask-wearing in closed and crowded spaces,” he added.

“I know people have become tired of following SOPs but mask-wearing is the easiest way through which we can avoid the fourth wave of coronavirus,” the premier added, while urging the masses to follow precautionary measures to avoid lockdowns.

Prime Minister Imran, who chaired a meeting to review the coronavirus situation in the country on Thursday, also stressed that the people, particularly those living in cities, should get them vaccinated as early as possible. “Ample doses of the vaccine are available and more will be coming,” he added.

Stressing that Pakistan, unlike the US and the UK, was not a Covid-19 vaccine producing country, the prime minister told the nation that the government was importing the vaccine doses and that complete vaccination of all the people would take time.

The prime minister urged the masses to take protective measures, including the use face masks on the occasion of upcoming Eidul Azha, which could cause rise in coronavirus cases. He assured that after successfully tackling the previous waves, Pakistan could again be saved from the negative fallout of Covid-19 through the cooperation of the public coupled with government’s efforts and measures.

Imran pointed out that the country had so far been fortunate in tackling the pandemic with the cooperation of the masses. He also appreciated the efforts made by the National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) to deal with the situation.

During the past waves of coronavirus, he said, “the government’s strategy to handle the pandemic and overcome its after-effects had been very successful” and the country was placed among the three best performing countries by The Economist’s Normalcy Index.

Imran emphasised that the government wanted the wheels of economy to keep turning and it did not want to go for lockdowns. “Following the protective measures, including wearing of the face masks, are essential to protect the economy as well as people which could be affected by lockdown and closures of businesses…,” he said.

While appreciating the role of district administrations in ensuring the enforcement of Covid-19 SOPs during the previous waves of the virus, the prime minister urged them to fulfil their responsibility of ensuring the use of face masks by the people at public places.

Also read: Delta variant could rear its head in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

No lockdown

Earlier in the day, Planning Minister Asad Umar, who supervises the national strategy to stem the Covid-19 spread, said that the government would not impose a complete lockdown during the fourth wave of coronavirus pandemic, which he feared would start in the current month.

Umar said that the NCOC, which serves as the nerve centre of the government’s synchronised effort against the pandemic, had informed the Kashmir Election Commission about violation of coronavirus SOPs during ongoing election campaigns.

The prime minister’s warning comes as the single-day tally of the fresh Covid-19 cases topped 1,600 for the first time in nearly four weeks. The government had repeatedly warned that there had been a rise in the pandemic in recent weeks and asked the public to take special care during the upcoming Eidul Azha.

The NCOC said in its daily update that the national tally of active cases soared to 34,531, as 1,683 more people tested positive for the virus, while 1,084 people recovered from the disease during the past 24 hours. The national positivity ratio, it said, was 3.33%, slightly higher than 3.27% the other day.

According to the update, 2,235 corona patients, among them 1,980 in critical care, including 201 on ventilators, were admitted to various dedicated healthcare facilities of the country. It said that 39 critical patients were hospitalised during the past 24 hours.

Also, during the last 24 hours, the NCOC said, 24 patients, among them 23 in hospitals, including 15 on ventilators, died, raising the nationwide death toll from the pandemic to 22,493. The forum said that most of the deaths, 16, occurred in Sindh, followed by 7 in Punjab.

Since the pandemic broke out in February 2020, 967,633 cases were detected. Among them 910,609 people made full recovery from the disease, making it a significant recovery ratio of more than 90%.



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