ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Friday expressed alarm as the average positivity rate of Covid-19 cases rose 40 per cent over the last four days.

Punjab and Islamabad have reported more than 100 cases for the past four days with the province also witnessing an increase in the number of deaths in the past few days.

Two days ago, the NCOC had warned of shutting down services again if the standard operating procedures (SOPs) were not properly complied with.

During the morning session of the NCOC, health officials presented data on the pandemic and said the increasing danger of a second wave of coronavirus was evident after a jump was seen in hospital admissions and a spike in the number of daily deaths.

According to the centre’s statement, the positivity ratio had risen for the fifth consecutive day and so had deaths. The number of critical patients in hospitals is also high, it added.

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

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 Sept 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 compared to the global 2.72pc.

In Pakistan, men accounted for 71pc of the total deaths. Of these, 76pc are over the age of 50,” the NCOC said.

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.

Earlier this week, ministers warned the nation against flouting health 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 had said.

The minister had warned that if people continued to violate SOPs, “we will lose both lives and livelihoods”.

Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari had also expressed similar views.

“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.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had recently expressed his fear of 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.

Published in Dawn, October 24th, 2020