COVID-19 cases inch up; govt urges precaution

-Asad seeks nation’s firm support to curb virus spread
-Emphasizes the need to follow SOPs against COVID-19
-Directs mini smart lockdown in parts of Karachi, Islamabad, Azad Kashmir

By Asghar Ali Mubarak

ISLAMABAD: The country’s coronavirus positivity ratio has gone above two per cent for the first time in six weeks, reported 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 of the increasing risks of Covid-19 spread due to the organisation of public gatherings in the country.
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, Mahmood on Thursday had said that the federal government would not close educational institutions again. “20 million children are out of schools, it’s 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.
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 Umar tweeted.
Furthermore, federal ministers including Fawad Chaudhry, Sheikh Rasheed and Asad Umar 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,” Chaudhry said in a tweet.
The appeals from ministers come 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.
To tackle another form of public gatherings, the NCOC has 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.”
Agencies add: Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar on Sunday has said that mini smart lockdown has been re-imposed in Karachi, Islamabad and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) after surge in the number of coronavirus cases. Asad Umar in his tweet said that coronavirus cases have been increased by two percent as compared to last week.