• NCOC sets up teams to enforce non-pharmaceutical interventions during Eid holidays
• Non-essential businesses to remain closed from May 6 to 18
• Record 164,168 people get vaccinated in single day

ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Tuesday decided to set up monitoring teams at the federal, provincial and district levels to ensure health guidelines were followed during Eid holidays as Pakistan reported less than 3,400 cases in a single day after over a month.

All businesses will remain closed from May 8 to 16 throughout the country, except food outlets, grocery stores, medical stores, clinics, petrol pumps and bakeries. Besides, there will be complete ban on tourism.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the NCOC presided over by Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar and co-chaired by National Coordinator Lt Gen Hamooduz Zaman Khan. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan also attended the meeting.

According to the NCOC data, 161 patients succumbed to the virus and 3,377 got infected over the past 24 hours.

Earlier, a figure of less than 3,400 was reported on March 23 when 3,301 people contracted Covid-19. The highest number of cases during the third wave was recorded on April 17 when 6,127 people tested positive for coronavirus.

As many as 666 patients were on ventilators across the country while the number of active cases — which was over 90,000 last week — stood at 86,151 as of May 4. Besides, 6,464 patients were under treatment in hospitals. The NCOC said the positivity ratio remained at 8.9 per cent.

A statement issued after the NCOC meeting said: “The forum decided to form monitoring teams at federal, provincial and district levels to ensure implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) from 8-16 May, 2021. During this period all business and shops will remain closed with few exceptions like food outlets, grocery stores, medical stores, clinics, petrol pumps, bakeries.”

It further stated: “The forum was informed that there would be a complete ban on tourism for both locals and outsiders. All tourist resorts, formal and informal picnic spots, public parks, shopping malls; all hotels and restaurants in/around tourist/picnic spots will remain closed. Travel nodes leading to tourist/picnic spots both in hilly areas of northern areas and sea views/beaches in south will also be closed; locals especially people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir will be allowed to travel back home.”

On the other hand, Asad Umar, who also heads the NCOC, acknowledged that the compliance with standard operating procedures (SOPs) had doubled.

In a tweet, Mr Umar said: “Significant improvement seen in SOP compliance since the stronger enforcement measures including military deployment took place. National average compliance has doubled from 34pc on 25th April to 68pc on 3rd May. Need to sustain and build on this compliance level specially till Eid.”

According to a tweet by the NCOC, the number of vaccinations surpassed the figure of 2.7 million after 164,168 more people got inoculated. This was the highest number of people to have been vaccinated in a single day.

Talking to Dawn, microbiologist Prof Dr Javaid Usman said the reason behind a decline in Covid-19 cases was compliance with the SOPs by people. “This will also reduce pressure on hospitals. There is a simple formula of 81+14+5 for Covid-19 patients. It means 81pc people have mild disease, 14pc have moderate to severe disease and only 5pc will have severe to critical disease. However, because of a large number of cases, 5pc patients, who develop severe disease, become so many that it gets difficult to accommodate them in hospitals,” he said.

Dr Usman said people should therefore strictly adhere to the SOPs to reduce burden on the health system.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2021

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