Risk mitigation important to avoid second Covid-19 wave, says Asad Umar

13 Oct 2020

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Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar addresses a press conference after an NCOC meeting. — DawnNewsTV/File
Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar addresses a press conference after an NCOC meeting. — DawnNewsTV/File

Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar on Tuesday emphasised the importance of risk mitigation in order to prevent a second Covid-19 wave in the country, a statement by the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) said.

During an NCOC meeting, the minister said that there was a need to ensure that standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by the government, including wearing face masks and other guidelines, are being followed.

The forum was told that 3,497 smart lockdowns have been imposed in 103 districts across the country. It was also informed that 52 per cent of tests were being carried out under the trace, test and quarantine (TTQ) strategy.

NCOC was also briefed on measures being taken by provincial governments to curb the spread of the virus by respective chief secretaries, who attended the meeting. Sindh chief secretary told the meeting's participants that the government was monitoring academic institutions and marriage halls — both of which reopened last month. He assured the forum that the provincial authorities will take administrative measures to ensure that health guidelines set by the NCOC are implemented.

The chief secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa informed the meeting that the government had taken action against some restaurants and marriage halls for violating SOPs. Meanwhile, Balochistan chief secretary said that due to implementation of the TTQ strategy, an improvement" in Covid-19 cases was observed in the province.

Umar said that so far, the nation has taken the right steps that have helped prevent deaths and contain the spread of the disease.

"The proactive response of the people has been key so far," the minister said.

The people of Pakistan have shown great maturity and responsibility in following guidelines for preventing the spread of the virus, he added.

On Sunday, Umar had revealed that the country's Covid-19 positivity rate has risen above two per cent after a six-week average of less than 2pc, and urged people to cooperate with the authorities in following coronavirus precautionary measures.

Last week, the NCOC had proposed restrictions on large-scale public gatherings and issued fresh guidelines for marriage halls after the country saw a rise in Covid-19 infections in recent weeks.

According to officials privy to the development, the NCOC pointed out that large-scale public gatherings were prohibited in most countries as they had the potential to cause an exponential increase in infections.

They said these gatherings should ideally not take place at all, but if unavoidable, must be organised with strict compliance with the SOPs for which deliberations were underway.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Imran Khan had also urged the public to wear masks and take precautionary measures as there was "fear [that] onset of winter could result in 2nd wave" of the novel coronavirus.