LAHORE: The Punjab government has issued new standard guidelines (standard operating procedures) for public and official meetings in wake of expected second wave of coronavirus pandemic.
The SOPs issued by the primary & secondary healthcare department on Wednesday catergorised four types of gatherings.
The department said concentration of people at a specific location for a specific purpose over a set period of time has the potential to strain the planning and response resources of the state.
“Since mass gatherings have substantial political, cultural, social, and economic implications, such pro-crowd activities increase Covid-19 transmission risk manifolds, thereby, warranting the need for stringent set of Standard Operating Procedures”, the health department said.
On recommendation of the Technical Working Group on Covid-19, the department categorised the gatherings on the basis of Covid-19 spread risk, crowed management and violation of social distancing SOPs.
Govt says very high risk mass concentration activities cannot be allowed
It said the gathering with uncertain profile and behaviors of participants is categorised as very high-risk gathering. Under such condition, crowed control is difficult. People may act under very high enthusiasm e.g. political movements, public rallies, urs, processions, religious gathering other than prayers etc.
“The gathering where crowed is under semi-control condition is categorised as high risk gathering. For these events time, venue and duration is limited e.g. religious gathering (prayers assembly), marriage ceremonies, cultural events, sport events, awareness walks etc.
“The gathering where participation is under control condition. Participants would have some professional background and can understand Covid-19 SOPs easily e.g. professional conferences, academic exhibitions, seminars etc.
“The gathering where participation and crowd management are under full control. Participants are trained on Covid-19 SOPs and realise official obligations to comply with the precautions.”
The department declared that any decisions to restrict, modify, postpone, cancel, or proceed with holding a mass gathering should be based on a rigorous risk assessment exercise.
“The risk assessment should be undertaken by respective public health authorities and event organisers with input from other relevant authorities.
“As a guiding principle, districts where cases are on rise and Covid-19 Test Positivity Rate (CTPR) is above 5pc, “very high risk mass gathering” activities will not be allowed.”
Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2020