Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar on Tuesday said people in the country were "committing a collective blunder by recklessly ignoring" all standard operating procedures (SOPs) against coronavirus, the results of which have started to show in the form of increased deaths.
"Last week, daily Covid mortality [rate] was 12. This is a 140 per cent increase vs few weeks back," Umar said via tweet.
He warned that if people continued to violate SOPs, "we will lose both lives and livelihoods".
Echoing Umar's views, Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari agreed that people were not following SOPs. "Sadly people have stopped wearing masks in all public places, especially markets, offices, restaurants etc," she observed.
"It is an act of extreme selfishness not to wear masks as you endanger not only yourself but also your family, associates, workers and everyone you come into contact with," she added.
Fatalities from the virus have risen sharply over the last week, with Punjab on Sunday reporting daily deaths in double digits for the first time since July. Seventeen deaths were recorded across the country on Oct 17 after more than a month of reporting less than 15 Covid-19 fatalities a day.
Rising Covid-19 postivity rate
A day earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan said he feared a second wave of Covid-19 in the coming months in cities where pollution levels are high.
“I fear that in these two months — October and November [...] cities like Faisalabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Gujranwala where there is more pollution [...] there might be a second spike in coronavirus cases. The cases are rising gradually and we hope that they don’t increase quickly; we are monitoring it,” he told participants at the encouragement award ceremony of ‘Clean Green Index of 19 Competing Cities of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’.
Last week, Umar had urged the nation to take SOPs for curbing the spread of the coronavirus seriously once again in the face of a rising positivity rate.
"National positivity of Covid cases yesterday (Oct 14) 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."
He had 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," he said.
The minister said that Covid positivity was "extremely high" in Muzaffarabad, "remained high" in Karachi, and is "rising" in Lahore and Islamabad.
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.