Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Dr Faisal Sultan at a media briefing in Islamabad, on May 3, 2021. SCREENGRAB

Army help may be sought to implement SOPs

SAPM on health says tourist spots to welcome only ‘vaccinated visitors’

Our Correspondent July 12, 2021

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said on Monday that only those people would be allowed to take recreational trips to the tourist spots across the country, who had been administered coronavirus vaccine.

Speaking on behalf of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) and the health ministry, Dr Sultan said the Covid-19 cases might have increased due to the carelessness of the people, therefore, army could be called in to implement the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

The press conference by the de facto health minister of the country came a day after the national positivity ratio topped 4% for the first time since June, while the single-day tally of new cases came close to 2,000, according to the daily update of the pandemic issued by the NCOC.

Dr Sultan spoke about the rapid increase in the Delta variant of coronavirus, as the last few weeks saw the positivity rate going up from 2% to 4%. He said the cases might have increased due to the carelessness of the masses, therefore, army could be called to implement the SOPs.

“This restriction will be strictly implemented during the upcoming Eid holidays,” the prime minister’s aide observed during the presser. “Vaccine is a vital strategy against Covid-19, apart from facemask and other SOPs,” he added, urging tourists to get vaccinated before embarking on their journeys.

The government is currently seized with worries over a fresh spurt in new cases of coronavirus, after the third wave of the disease subsided in June. However, the presence of even deadlier Delta variant, which originated in India and spread around the world, had stoked fears of a fourth wave.

The Delta cases are reportedly rising in the country, forcing the authorities to take stricter measures. The Rawalpindi administration on Monday imposed smart lockdown at 33 places in the district after the discovery of 30 cases. Another 27 cases had been reported in the twin city of Islamabad.

Dr Sultan said that the new variants, such as Delta, were aggravating the pandemic situation in the country. “The solution lies in complying with the restrictions imposed by the government,” he added.

Read National Covid positivity ratio crosses 4%

He stressed that big cities and tourist spots would be under special focus. “We will take all the administrative help we require to implement restrictions, along with military assistance,” he said. “We will impose smart lockdowns, owing to their effectiveness in the past and restrict public mobility.”

According to Dr Sultan, there was no shortage of the vaccine in Pakistan. He added that close to 450,000 immunisation shots were administered across the country on Sunday, while around 6 million doses were scheduled to arrive.

The SAPM also lamented that the people had been careless with the handling of the virus. He appealed to the masses to adopt the virus-induced standard operating procedures (SOPs), especially wear a face mask at all the time and avoid crowded places.

Meanwhile, the Rawalpindi administration ordered smart lockdown at 33 places, after 30 cases of Indian-origin Delta Coronavirus were detected from 11 areas of the district. According to the relevant officials, the smart lockdown would last for 10 days.

Under the smart lockdown, the officials said, the streets where the infected homes were located had been declared as quarantine zones.

Teams from the health department were overseeing the treatment of the infected patients, they added.Genome sequencingAlso, the health ministry officials said that some cases of Delta variant were also reported from a few localities of the Islamabad Capital Territory.

According to sources, the authorities were weighing the option of introducing smart lockdown to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) has developed a plan to detect Delta variant cases on an emergency basis. The plan for increasing genome sequencing would be presented to the NCOC on Tuesday (today) for approval.

Also, under the plan, capacity of various hospitals for genome typing would be enhanced. According to sources, different hospitals had been selected for genome typing. Genome sequencing would be introduced in Islamabad hospitals, they added.Daily update

In the daily update, the NCOC reported 1,808 new coronavirus cases in the 24 hours, taking the country's Covid-19 tally to 973, 284. The national positivity ratio was 4.09%. It added that 670 patients recovered from the virus, taking the total recoveries to 913,203, depicting a 97.59% recovery ratio.

The nationwide death toll climbed to 22,597 after 15 more people succumbed to the deadly disease. According to the NCOC, total active Covid-19 cases across the country were reported to be 38,622, including 2,119 patients in critical condition.


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