NCOC issues guidelines on public gatherings

Updated 14 Oct 2020

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The NCOC issued the guidelines for public gathering (to minimise wedding and sports activities) as the number of positive cases kept on increasing gradually. — File photo
The NCOC issued the guidelines for public gathering (to minimise wedding and sports activities) as the number of positive cases kept on increasing gradually. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Tuesday asked all the chief secretaries of provinces and the chief commissioner of Islamabad to formulate fresh modalities/SOPs based on guidelines issued by it to contain the spread of Covid-19.

The NCOC issued the guidelines for public gathering (to minimise wedding and sports activities) as the number of positive cases kept on increasing gradually.

Officials said the NCOC asked all the concerned, including the chief commissioner Islamabad, to ensure the implementation of the guidelines.

All federating units should formulate modalities/standard operating procedures (SOPs) remaining within these guidelines, according to a letter issued by the NCOC and available with Dawn.

The letter said with the opening of all sectors and onset of the winter, there was an increasing trend of Covid-19 positivity, with the average rate rising from 1.75pc in the fourth week of August to 2.03pc in the second week of October.

Provinces and capital administration told to formulate SOPs based on guidelines as Covid-19 cases continue to rise

Public gatherings are high risk activities and banned in most countries as they have the potential to increase the spread of the virus exponentially and jeopardise the success achieved against the pandemic, it added.

In public gatherings, people are assembled on any given space, indoor or outdoor, for some purpose such as cultural events, religious gathering, sports events, political gathering or other similar events.

While formulating SOPs/guidelines, it should be borne in mind that public gathering should be discouraged in view of their potential to become super spreaders and preferably no public gathering be held except those related to economic activities.

Besides, these must be held in well-defined venues which facilitate enforcement of SOPs if holding public gatherings is unavoidable. For indoor events, the maximum participants should be 300 people or 50pc of the capacity.

Duration of the event/activity should not exceed three hours and all the participants should be seated and there should be no standing participation, the letter said, adding inter-chair/seat distance should be at least three feet or more.

The SOP for outdoor events, including control entry/exit, density, social distancing says all persons would be seated. Besides, a minimum of three-foot distance and a maximum duration of not more than three hours should be maintained.

Rallies/walks/gatherings on roads and streets and other ill-defined places should be avoided.

Organisers will be responsible for ensuring compliance of guidelines particularly wearing masks, social distancing and provision of Covid-19 safety kits to the participants.

The organisers should execute SOPs through an implementation committee. No public gatherings to be held in cities where positivity ratio is consistently higher.

Children and elderly should be discouraged to participate while people with Covid-19 or respiratory illness related symptoms must not be allowed to attend. Individuals with chronic illnesses, including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart diseases should not be allowed to participate.

Besides, no meals or light refreshment should be allowed in any type of gathering. Drinking water facilities should be arranged at multiple locations to avoid crowding, the letter said.

Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2020