• Registration of people over 30 starts today
• Markets to remain open till 8pm from tomorrow
• 1,531 cases, 83 deaths reported in single day
ISLAMABAD: As Covid-19 vaccine registration of people aged 30 years and above begins, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has decided to resume public transport from Sunday (today) instead of the previously given date of May 17.
Besides, all markets and shops will remain open till 8pm from May 17.
On the other hand, the country reported the lowest number of cases since March 8. Experts, however, attributed the low count to fewer number of tests conducted due to Eid.
According to a statement, a special session of the NCOC was chaired 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 was also in attendance while chief secretaries participated via video link.
“The forum reviewed the implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) during Eid holidays and expressed its satisfaction. It also appreciated the efforts of all stakeholders, especially the cooperation rendered by the public across the country. After reviewing the existing non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) a number of decisions were taken,” it said.
“All inter-provincial, inter-city and intra-city public transport to resume from 16th May instead of previously given date of 17th May,” the statement said, adding that it will, however, operate with 50 per cent passenger occupancy whereas railways will maintain its operation with 70pc occupancy. All markets and shops will remain open till 8pm and normal working hours for offices will resume from May 17, with 50pc work-from-home condition.
The statement said the remaining NPIs would be reviewed on May 19.
The forum emphasised on continued monitoring of SOPs’ enforcement, and appealed to the public to adhere to health guidelines and ensure prior registration on 1166 before walking in for vaccination.
The data released by the NCOC showed that 1,531 cases and 83 deaths were reported in a single day whereas 588 people were on ventilators throughout the country.
The number of active cases has been recorded at 71,804 as of May 15 while 4,805 patients were admitted to various hospitals.
An official of the Ministry of National Health Services, who is not authorised to speak on record, said though 1,531 cases with 5pc positivity rate was appreciable, it should kept into consideration that only 30,248 tests were conducted compared to 48,103 on May 7.
“Besides, people will continue violating SOPs during Eid holidays and they will become carriers of the virus while returning from their native areas. Therefore the number of cases can increase in the coming days,” the official added.
He said registration of over 30-year age group would start from today (Sunday), calling on people to get themselves registered at the earliest so that the date for the vaccination of this category could be announced.
PMA team meets Alvi
A delegation of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) on Saturday held a meeting with President Dr Arif Alvi in Karachi.
The delegation was led by the association’s secretary general, Dr Qaiser Sajjad, and included Dr Qazi Wasiq and Dr Abdul Ghafoor Shoro.
Talking to Dawn, Dr Sajjad said during the meeting the PMA appreciated the lockdown policy of the government which led to a reduction in Covid-19 cases.
“However, we said the government should not announce it as a success as it will give a message to the nation that Covid-19 was over and they would start taking the SOPs lightly. Moreover, we appreciated the government for promulgating an ordinance which stopped children from expelling parents from houses,” he added.
Dr Sajjad said during the meeting, the PMA delegation also discussed issues and complaints related to the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) and its policies of nepotism.
The president was also told that the commission had allowed medical colleges, which were banned by the defunct PMDC due to lack of infrastructure, to start admissions.
“Dr Alvi assured us that he will look into the issue and will seek clarification from the PMC,” Dr Sajjad said.
Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2021