Major cities cross 5pc positivity as more than 3,400 Covid cases reported

Published March 18, 2021
Senior citizens wait their turn to receive the Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine from a health worker at a vaccination center in Lahore on March 18. — AP
Senior citizens wait their turn to receive the Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine from a health worker at a vaccination center in Lahore on March 18. — AP

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Thursday voiced its concern over a rise in the country's Covid-19 disease trend and mortalities, adding that almost all major cities have crossed 5 per cent positivity.

The country reported a total of 3,495 new coronavirus cases and 61 fatalities in the last 24 hours, translating into a national positivity rate of 7.8 per cent as it battles a third wave of the pandemic.

Region-wise breakdown of cases and deaths:

  • Punjab: 1,824 cases, 43 deaths
  • Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 624 cases, 9 deaths
  • Islamabad: 538 cases, 2 deaths
  • Sindh: 384 cases, 1 death
  • Azad Jammu and Kashmir: 103 cases, 6 deaths
  • Balochistan: 22 cases

During today's NCOC session, chaired by Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, the forum was informed about the implementation of various health guidelines that have been issued to all federating units.

"The NCOC was apprised that implementation on those guidelines needs comprehensive review. The NCOC showed serious concern on rising disease trend and mortality," a statement issued by the forum said.

"The NCOC was also briefed that a sharp rising trend in the disease is visible and positivity has crossed 7.5pc. Almost all major cities have crossed 5pc positivity," it added.

Provincial administrations have been asked to take immediate actions for strict implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) to curb the spread of the virus.

Serious concern was shown on the general disregard of SOPs by masses. Mass violations of SOPs, including not wearing face masks and disregarding social distancing, are widely reported, the NCOC said.

The forum appealed to citizens to display "good social behaviour", warning that a failure to do so will result in strict measures which may cause closure of businesses and restrictions on economic and social activities.

It was also decided that Covid-19 vaccination centres across the country will remain closed on Sundays and national holidays, the statement concluded.

'Please be very, very careful'

The planning and development minister also took to Twitter to urge citizens to practice caution in light of a third wave of the pandemic.

"Sharp spike in Covid positivity. Daily hospital admissions and people in critical care rising fast. If SOP compliance does not improve, we will be forced to place stronger restrictions on activities. Please be very, very careful. The new strain spreads faster and is more deadly," he said.

Last week, Umar had said that the third wave of the coronavirus had started in the country. The minister, who is heading Pakistan's response to the coronavirus, said there was "no doubt" that the third wave had started and cited the spread of the coronavirus variant from the United Kingdom as the reason behind it.

"Our own statistics from the last few weeks show a sustained increase in our case fatality rate (the number of patients who succumbed to the virus from the total number infected). At the time, we were speculating that it may be linked to the UK strain. But now the research report is here which establishes [the link]," the minister had said, terming it a "very dangerous situation".

Meanwhile, Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar appealed to business and industries, urging them to ensure the implementation of SOPs to stem the spread of the virus.

"The third wave of the coronavirus pandemic has begun and adhering to SOPs can save both people's lives and their jobs," he said.

Govt changes slogan to fight Covid-19

A day earlier, the government changed the slogan to fight Covid-19 from ‘We should not fear coronavirus, we need to fight it’ to ‘Coronavirus is a pandemic, precaution is its cure’.

The step was taken in line with the decision of the federal cabinet and as per the recommendation of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII).

The Ministry of Religious Affairs, on the recommendation of the CII and the decision of the federal cabinet, issued a notification, stating that the slogan, ‘We should not fear coronavirus, we need to fight it’ (Corona Say Darna Nahin Larna Hai) had been changed to ‘Coronavirus is a pandemic, precaution is its cure’ (Corona Waba Hai, Ehtiyat Jis Ki Shifa Hai).

All stakeholders, including media, were directed to use the new slogan.

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