NCOC identifies 20 cities across Pakistan with potential Covid-19 hotspots

Published June 15, 2020
Head of National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) Asad Umar gestures during a press conference. — DawnNewsTV
Head of National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) Asad Umar gestures during a press conference. — DawnNewsTV

The National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) on Monday identified 20 cities across Pakistan with potential Covid-19 hotspots using a strategy termed as 'testing, tracing and quarantining (TTQ)', according to press release issued by the centre.

The TTQ strategy involves ramping up Covid-19 testing followed by rapidly tracing the contacts of confirmed positive cases, and effective quarantining of positive and suspected cases.

The following 20 cities have been identified by the NCOC for the enforcement of "necessary restrictive measures".

  • Karachi
  • Lahore
  • Quetta
  • Peshawar
  • Rawalpindi
  • Islamabad
  • Faisalabad
  • Multan
  • Gujranawala
  • Swat
  • Hyderabad
  • Sukkur
  • Sialkot
  • Gujarat
  • Ghotki
  • Larkana
  • Khairpur
  • Dera Ghazi Khan
  • Malakand
  • Mardan

The NCOC's strategy of TTQ was formulated to keep the spread of the novel coronavirus in check as different sectors of the economy were allowed to reopen.

Punjab govt to impose lockdown in certain areas of Lahore

Punjab's Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid, meanwhile, on Monday announced that the provincial government will be imposing a two-week lockdown in certain areas of Lahore from midnight tomorrow.

These areas are located in:

  • Shahdara
  • Nishtar Ground
  • Allama Iqbal Town
  • Lahore Cantt
  • Walled City
  • Mozang
  • Shad Bagh
  • Harbanspura
  • Gulberg

Explaining the decision to impose a lockdown in the aforementioned areas of Lahore, Rashid said that the final decision was approved after more than 300 confirmed cases of Covid-19 had been recorded in each of these areas — indicating a sharp spike.

Rashid said pharmacies, tandoors and dairy shops will remain open in these areas and and so will any factories that are making personal protective equipment.

"These areas will be locked down for at least two weeks and then we will observe the results," she said.

She warned that the provincial government may take "strict actions" against those who continue to flout the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Rashid rejected the idea that the PTI government had failed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"If our government has failed, so has every other government in the world," she said.

"The media is comparing us to New Zealand and Taiwan. The population of New Zealand is half of that of Lahore's. Controlling the virus there is much easier than controlling it in a densely populated country like ours," she added.

"People don't understand that this is a viral infection. Even in China, where they followed strict measures with commendable discipline, there is a resurgence of cases," she concluded.

The move comes just two days after Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a presser alongside the top brass of Punjab government, ruled out a sweeping lockdown in the province after the provincial government had proposed one in light of rapidly rising virus cases, particularly in the capital, Lahore.

Instead, the premier said the government will enforce selective lockdowns as part of its TTQ strategy in areas where clusters were found, which he said will be identified using a "sophisticated" software. He warned that strict implementation of SOPs will be enforced in these areas with violators getting punished.

Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) expressed concern over the hasty lifting of restrictions in a letter written to the Punjab health minister, stating that Pakistan did not meet any of the prerequisites for opening of the lockdown.

It also alerted Pakistan to its high positivity rate, underlining seriousness of the Covid-19 situation and poor efforts of the government in this regard.

As a strategy to help contain the massive transmission of coronavirus, the WHO recommended the provinces to impose a two-week lockdown. “WHO strongly recommends the two weeks off and two weeks on strategy as it offers the smallest curve,” the letter said.

Peshawar DC imposes restrictions on 4 localities

Meanwhile, the Peshawar deputy commissioner directed officials to enforce "controlled exit and entry" in four localities of the provincial capital due to an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases, in light of the recommendations made by the district health officer.

These include:

  • Ashrafia Colony
  • University Town Sub-Area
  • Danishabad
  • Sector E/2, Phase 1, Hayatabad

According to the notification, no general entry or exit will be allowed, except to those supplying essential commodities. Further, all types of gatherings will be strictly prohibited and all shops, other than those providing essential services, shall remain closed.

Congregations in mosques will also be restricted to five people.

"Anyone contravening the above directions shall render himself liable to be proceeded against under sections 17 and 18 of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Epidemic Control and Emergency Relief Ordinance 2020, and/or section 33 of the National Disaster Management Authority Act, 2010," the notification added.

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