'Unmistakable signs': Asad Umar urges caution as Covid-19 positivity rate rises to highest since August

Published October 15, 2020
Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar addresses a press conference. — DawnNewsTV/File
Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar addresses a press conference. — DawnNewsTV/File

Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar has urged the nation to take standard operating procedures (SOPs) for curbing the spread of the coronavirus seriously once again in the face of a rising positivity rate.

"National positivity of Covid cases was 2.37 per cent. This is the highest positivity rate in more than 50 days. The last time this level was seen was on August 23."

Umar also highlighted an increase in virus deaths. "The average number of Covid deaths during the first four days of this week was 11 per day, the highest since the week of August 10. Unmistakable signs of the rise of corona."

The minister said that Covid positivity was "extremely high" in Muzaffarabad, "remained high" in Karachi, and is "rising" in Lahore and Islamabad.

"Time for all of us to take Covid SOPs seriously again. Otherwise, we may have to take restrictive actions which have negative effects on people's livelihoods."

Fears of a second wave have surfaced after certain parts of the country witnessed an uptick in cases in recent weeks. Health officials have warned of cases rising in Punjab, especially Lahore, while Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has highlighted an increase in Karachi's positivity rate.

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

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