NCOC stiffens SOPs as daily Covid tally hits all-time high
Forum reports 7,678 new cases; only fully vaccinated people allowed in mosques
The single day tally of new coronavirus surged to the highest ever level of the pandemic in the country so far, as the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) revised on Friday its guidelines for educational institutions and places of worship to contain the spread of the Omicron variant.
The NCOC, which serves as the nerve centre of the government synchronised anti-Covid strategy, reported 7,678 new coronavirus cases during the last 24 hours, up from 6,808 cases, the second-highest daily tally, since the pandemic started in 2020.
The previous highest single day tally was recorded on June 13, 2020 when the NCOC reported 6,825 cases. Friday’s surge depicted a national positivity ratio of 12.93%, while it pushed the number of active Covid cases to above 57,000.
Also for the first time in many days, the daily deaths hit the double-digit. The NCOC said in its update that 23 Covid patients lost their lives during the past 24 hours. At present, it added, 961 patients were admitted to various Covid-dedicated health facilities across the country.
The country is in the grip of a fifth wave of coronavirus driven by the Omicron variant. This time around, however, the epicentre of the disease remained the Sindh province, particularly, the capital city of Karachi, where the positivity ratio reaches 45.43%.
The NCOC reviewed the virus situation in a meeting on Friday and issued fresh guidelines and standard operating procedures for educational institutions, recreational spots and places of worship, in order to stem the pandemic tide.
“NCOC session took a detailed review of current disease situation in the country,” said a statement issued after the meeting. The statement added that from now on, “only fully vaccinated individuals are allowed for prayer in masajid/worship places”.
The mosques, the NCOC also made mask wearing, removal of carpet etc, maintaining 6 feet social distancing; frequent hand sanitisation and keep doors and windows open for ventilation, mandatory during prayers in the mosques.
The new guidelines said organising prayers in open was preferable. It added the elderly and co-morbid offer prayers at homes and the faithful perform ablution at homes. The forums also suggested a minimal attendance for the prayers in mosques and short sermon for Friday prayer.
The forum noted that Covid testing in education institutes was carried out in major Omicron-hit cities to ascertain disease spread among students and to ensure accurate disease mapping. “Data suggests a strong correlation between vaccination levels and infection rate in various cities,” it added.
Therefore, the forum decided that education institutions, their premises or sections or specific classes with high positivity would be closed for one week. It added that the provincial authorities in consultation with district health and education officials and school administrations would set a threshold of cases for deciding such closures.
The forum also decided to conduct aggressive testing in education institutes for next two weeks especially in high disease prevalence cities. “Federating units to carry out special vaccination drives in schools to ensure 100% vaccination of students over 12 years of age,” it added.
(WITH INPUT FROM NEWS DESK)