NCOC praised for managing COVID

-PM greets the body for its good performance
-Pakistan ranked among top countries for handling Pandemic
-Provinces directed to ensure implementation of SOPs on Eid
-NCOC expressed concerns over the growing number of COVID cases

By Uzma Zafar

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), the nerve centre of Pakistan’s coronavirus response, the team of the Ehsaas Programme and the State Bank of Pakistan after The Economist ranked Pakistan among the best performing countries for handling the coronavirus pandemic.
The Economist’s normalcy index tracks the progress of 50 countries’ return to pre-pandemic life on the basis of eight indicators classified into three categories. Each country is scored out of 100, the benchmark score for the pre-pandemic level of activity, on the index, where Pakistan’s current score is 84.4. This tracker is updated every week.
At present, the top-ranked country on the index is Hong Kong, with a score of 96.3, followed by New Zealand that has a score of 87.8. Pakistan is ranked third.
Sharing a screenshot of the index on Wednesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted: “Congratulations to NCOC members, Ehsaas team & State Bank of Pakistan for effective response to Covid-19 pandemic; and above all thanks to the mercy of Almighty Allah.”
Among other countries, China is ranked 19th with a score of 72.9 and India, which has been struggling in face of the pandemic after a disastrous outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant, is ranked 48 with a score of 46.5. South Korea and Colombia are at the bottom, each having an overall score of zero. Science behind the ranking: According to The Economist, the index “covers 50 of the world’s largest economies that together account for 90 per cent of global GDP (gross domestic product) and 76 per cent of the world’s population.”
They are scored out of 100 on the basis of eight indicators, classified into three categories. The first category of transport and travel includes public transport in big cities, the extent of traffic congestion in these cities and the number of international and domestic flights.
Indicators such as the amount of time people spend outdoors, cinema and box-office revenues and attendance at sports events are clubbed together under the category of recreation and entertainment, and footfall in shops and occupancy of offices are grouped under the category of retailing and work.
The separate tracker for each indicator shows that Pakistan has shown significant improvement on the public transport indicator, where its current score is above 100. However, the country’s score remains below 50 on the domestic and international flights indicator.
Its score on the indicator signifying cinema revenues has remained zero for most part of this year and the previous year. For the amount of time people spend outdoors, the country’s score has remained close to 100. At present, Pakistan is ranked slightly above 100 on this indicator.
Pakistan has shown erratic but gradual improvement on the indicators of office occupancy and footfall in shops since March last year. The graph shows that its current score for office occupancy is above 100, after a dip in June, and the country’s score is close to 120 on the retail indicator.
The country has not been scored for road traffic and sports attendance.
Concerns on raising COVID cases:NCOC on Wednesday held a meeting to express concern over the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the country and directed provinces to ensure the strict implementation of the coronavirus standard operating procedures on the occasion of Eid ul Adha.
The meeting was held under the chairmanship of the Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, while all provincial chief secretaries attended the meeting through video links.
During the meeting, a discussion related to the violations of the SOPs in different sectors also took place. After being briefed about the situation, the minister instructed the provinces to ensure the strict implementation of the SOPs.
He also directed the provinces to ramp up their coronavirus vaccination drives.The NCOC also issued special instructions for the occasion of Eidul Azha to ascertain that the number of COVID-19 cases does not escalate.Meanwhile, Umar told the attendees that the western border of the country has been closed since June 17 due to the worrying coronavirus situation arising in Afghanistan. He added that the government is making arrangements to bring back Pakistanis who have been stranded in Afghanistan.
The NCOC also said that individuals who have been vaccinated would be required to quarantine for 10 days if they test positive for COVID-19.
Uptick in positivity rate:
Meanwhile, Pakistan has witnessed a rise in daily cases in recent days.
According to the government’s Covid-19 portal, the number of daily Covid-19 cases dropped from four digits to three digits on June 25. It remained at around 900 till June 27 and further fell to 735 on June 28.
Then the number of cases gradually started increasing and doubled in just one week. The positivity rate was less than 2pc in June but it has now crossed 3pc after a gap of 20 days.
According to the government’s portal for tracking the spread of the disease in the country, the positivity rate was recorded as 3.28pc during the last 24 hours. The last time it had exceeded 3pc was on June 16 when it was recorded as 3.01pc.
During the last 24 hours, the country has reported 1,517 coronavirus cases and 17 deaths. The total number of cases has risen to 966,007 and the death toll is 22,469.