ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has warned that there could be another spike in coronavirus cases in the country if people give up efforts against the disease and violate precautionary measures on the occasion of Eidul Azha.

However, he expressed satisfaction over what he called decline in Covid-19 cases and said the “curve of viral disease is going down in the country”.

“If we behave carelessly on Eid, there is fear that the pandemic will surge sha­rply,” the prime minister told the media after inaugurating the newly established 250-bed Isolation Hospital and Infectious Treatment Centre (IHITC) here on Thursday.

Mr Khan appealed to the nation to observe upcoming Eidul Azha with simplicity and take precautionary measures so that the number of Covid-19 cases in the country could not rise again.

Inaugurates 250-bed isolation centre; 3,011 Covid-19 cases, 78 deaths reported in 24 hours

Meanwhile, the country reported 3,011 Covid-19 cases and 78 deaths over the past 24 hours, taking the national tally of cases to 242,740 and fatalities to 5032. Overall, 145,311 pat­ients have so far recovered.

The prime minister said the virus spread rapidly when a large number of people gathered. “This we have seen when carelessness on Eidul Fitr in May led to a spike in cases in the country. This led to pressure on our hospitals and doctors, resulting in the spread of the infections and more deaths,” he added.

Lauding the government’s policy to curb the spread of coronavirus, the prime minister said that after Eidul Fitr several steps had been taken to contain the virus, including smart lockdowns that cau­sed a decline in cases. “By the grace of the Almighty, the National Command and Operation Centre and the cooperation of the provinces in implementing inst­ruc­tions — due to joint eff­orts by everyone — Pakistan is now among those countries where infections are declining,” he added.

“Today, I want to make a special appeal to you all: if we are careless on Eidul Azha, the virus could spread again and there could be a fresh spike in the number of infections. Hospitals will come under pressure again. Therefore, I’m appealing to you all to observe this Eid with simplicity,” the prime minister said.

The government, he added, had developed standard operating procedures (SOPs) for Eidul Azha on how to carry out animal sacrifices. “I appeal to the entire nation to observe Eid with simplicity — for the sake of your country, its economy and especially the elderly and at-risk members of society,” he maintained.

The prime minister said if people took care now, Pakistan would come out of this pandemic better than other countries.

Earlier, National Disaster Management Authority Chairman Lt Gen Mohammad Afzal briefed the prime minister on the isolation centre. The 250-bed state-of-the-art IHITC has been constructed in 40 days at a cost of about Rs980 million.

Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, Minister for Information Shibli Faraz, Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing and other senior officials attended the inauguration ceremony.

Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2020