NCOC sounds alarm after Covid-19 positivity rate increases for 5th consecutive day

Updated 23 Oct 2020

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Planning Minister Asad Umar (L) chairs a meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre on Friday. — Provided by author
Planning Minister Asad Umar (L) chairs a meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre on Friday. — Provided by author

Two days after issuing a lockdown warning and calling for better compliance with Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs), the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Friday noted an increase in the country's positivity rate, virus-related deaths and hospital admissions.

During the morning session of the forum, health officials presented data on the country's Covid outbreak.

The forum noted that the positivity ratio had risen for the fifth consecutive day, a statement issued by the NCOC said. The average positivity rate is 40 per cent higher during the last four days, the statement said, adding that deaths were also increasing.

"It was also noted that Muzaffarabad, Hyderabad, Karachi and Gilgit-Baltistan have a higher positivity ratio along with other areas across the country."

Hospital admissions are also on the increase particularly in Punjab, the forum was told. There is also an increase in the number of critical patients at hospitals, the statement said.

The Punjab chief secretary shared data on the province's Covid-19 outbreak during the meeting. "The death ratio in Punjab was 1.6 on September 1 and has now gone up to six. Meanwhile, the province's positivity ratio has increased from 0.92 to 1.33," the statement said.

An analysis of the fatality rate showed that Pakistan's figure stood at 2.06 per cent as compared to the global 2.72pc.

"[In Pakistan] Men account for 71pc of the total deaths. Of these, 76pc are over the age of 50," the NCOC said.

The increase in Covid-19 indicators comes two days after the NCOC warned it would close down services once again if the public continued to flout SOPs for curbing the spread of the virus.

Declaring the transport sector, markets, marriage halls, restaurants and public gatherings as high-risk areas, the centre had advised provinces to focus on them and take steps to prevent the spread of the virus.

Pakistan's coronavirus cases and deaths have seen a spike in recent days. According to data collected by Dawn.com, Punjab and Islamabad have reported more than 100 cases for the past four days. Punjab has also seen an increase in the number of deaths during the past few days.

Earlier this week, ministers warned the nation against flouting Covid guidelines. "Last week, daily Covid mortality [rate] was 12. This is a 140 per cent increase versus few weeks back," Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar — who oversees the NCOC — had said.

Umar had warned that if people continued to violate SOPs, "we will lose both lives and livelihoods". His views were echoed by Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari.

"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 had said.

Earlier this week, 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 an award ceremony.