ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – In wake of the rapid surge in coronavirus cases across the country, National Command Operation Center (NCOC) on Monday proposed the government to announce week-long Eid holidays from May 10 to May 16.
According to sources, the proposal for week-long holidays has been sent to the Ministry of Interior. The ministry will make a decision and then send its proposal to the federal cabinet for the final decision.
Earlier today, the NCOC discussed various considerations given to limiting public or mass mobility during the Eid holidays and setting up a tourism system to contain spiking Covid spread.
The NCOC session was held here chaired by Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar cochaired by the National Coordinator NCOC.
The forum had also considered the proposal for lockdown in cities with higher Coronavirus spread keeping in view the rate of increase in the spread of the Coronavirus.
The forum was told that increase in the disease was leading to lack of facilities in Covid dedicated hospitals in the cities with higher disease prevalence.
The final decision on the lockdown would be taken after consultation with all stakeholders, the Forum decided.
The Forum was briefed that the proposed restrictions during the lockdown included closure of markets and malls (except essential services), ban on intercity public transport and complete closure of educational institutions.
The NCOC also reviewed the procedure for conducting the Cambridge examinations.
However, the Forum wasbtold that these examinations were being conducted as per the decision of the Ministry of Education.
The Forum has decided not to field more than 50 candidates in one examination center and also requested the Ministry of Education to ensure implementation of all safety measures while conducting the examinations.
The Forum also decided to initiate registration process for people between the ages of 40 and 50 that would begin tomorrow (Tuesday). It was also decided to provide walk-in facility for vaccination to the citizens above 60 years of age.
The Forum was given a detailed briefing on the continuous supply of oxygen to the healthcare facilities where Oxygen supply was being monitored continuously.
The Forum asked the Commerce Ministry to come up with its own proposals for a relief package for the industrial sector, which was under constant pressure due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic. The Forum also created a joint team of the Ministry of Commerce, Industries and Production and the Ministry of Health to ensure a steady supply of oxygen in the country.
Last week, the NCOC suggested more restrictions to control the worsening situation of the COVID-19 in the country.
“We will have to increase the restrictions. If we do not contain the rapid spread of pandemic, we will have no option but to impose a complete lockdown in the big cities,” Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said after chairing the meeting of NCOC.
He said they would present their recommendations to the National Coordination Committee on Friday, which would take the final decision.
The minister warned that it was the last chance that the people should take the pandemic serious as they did in the first wave last year, as, otherwise, they would have to suffer from strict restrictions.
He regretted that neither the people nor the administration were showing their responsibility to ensure full compliance of the precautions and anti-COVID Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued by the government. He requested the provincial chief ministers to show leadership in that regard.
“All possible assistance (from the Federal Government) is at their disposal, but they have to show leadership on ground as the people will follow their message,” he added.
Asad Umar again warned that the country was only a few days away from the complete lockdown so the people must follow the SOPs to stem the surge of COVID-19.
The number of active corona patients, he said, had now risen to over 83,000 from a few thousands a few week ago. The COVID test positivity ratio was alarmingly increasing as evident from 33 percent in Mardan, 26 percent in Peshawar, 20 percent in Noshehra, 38 percent in Bahawalpur, 25 percent in Faisalabad, 27 percent in Lahore, 21 percent in Multan and 28 percent in Rawaplindi.
The test positivity ratio in Sindh province, however, was low but it was also increasing gradually as it was recorded 13 percent in Karachi and 14 percent in Hyderabad, he added. The minister said the number of corona patients were being admitted to hospitals had also increased to over 600 per day from 100 to 150 earlier.
He said in June last year when the pandemic was on peak in the first wave, the maximum number of patients on oxygen was around 3,400, which had now increased to 4,500.
Asad Umar said the current week would be the worst in term of the number of deaths as highest ever number of COVID patients were being expired.
A week earlier, not more than 26 patients were dying of COVID, but their number crossed 137 per day, he added.
The minister said the number of oxygen beds in hospitals was being increased and the situation at the moment was under control, however, it might go out of control if the COVID cases kept on rising.
He said the country had limited oxygen production capacity. The supply of oxygen had almost reached 90 percent of the total capacity, he added.
As regards the region, the minister said in Iran the daily COVID cases had increased to 25,000 and 395 deaths per day. Similar in India, about 14,000 new cases and 90 deaths per day were being reported earlier, but yesterday the number was increased to over 275,000 cases and 1,761 deaths.
“The whole region was in the grip of very dangerous COVID wave,” the minister said, adding a new variant of the coronavirus was spreading rapidly in India and that was why the Pakistan had decided to ban traveling to and from the neighbouring country.