NCOC asks chief secretaries to curb violations of SOPs

Published July 8, 2021
People wait for their turn to get a dose of a vaccine against the Covid-19 coronavirus outside a mobile vaccination health unit in Lahore on July 7. — AFP
People wait for their turn to get a dose of a vaccine against the Covid-19 coronavirus outside a mobile vaccination health unit in Lahore on July 7. — AFP

ISLAMABAD: While the number of new Covid-19 cases has doubled in just nine days, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) held a special meeting of the provincial chief secretaries on Wednesday to control violations of pandemic-related standard operation procedures (SOPs).

During the meeting, the federating and administrative units were directed to take strict action against violators of the SOPs and expedite vaccination process so that herd immunity could be achieved at the earliest.

The NCOC data showed that 17 deaths and 1,517 new cases were reported in a single day. The number of new cases was 735 on June 28, but in only nine days it increased by two times and the positivity rate reached 3.27 per cent. The number of active cases was 34,013 and 2,187 patients were admitted to hospitals as of July 7.

During the meeting of the NCOC, chaired by federal Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, the forum expressed concern over violations of the SOPs in different sectors and directed the authorities to focus on activities related to Eidul Azha.

Number of new Covid-19 cases doubles in just nine days

The forum was briefed that the western border, with Afghanistan, was sealed last month to stop possible transmission of coronavirus. During closure of the border, only those Pakistani nationals who have been stuck in Afghanistan are being allowed to come to Pakistan and special facility has been given to Afghan students and patients.

“Special arrangements have been made at Torkham and Chaman borders. The people coming to Pakistan who have been fully vaccinated have to stay in quarantine, at their homes, for 10 days in case of being tested positive. Those who have not been vaccinated or have partially been vaccinated will have to stay in quarantine in the provinces they belong to. In case of a severe emergency, Afghan patients and students are being allowed to enter,” an official told the meeting.

Coronavirus was detected in China in December 2019 and then started spreading in other countries. Pakistan had closed its borders and took a number of steps to stop the transmission of the virus. The first case of Covid-19 was reported in the country in the last week of February 2020.

Lockdown was imposed in the country on March 16, 2020, and a number of industries, including construction, and educational institutions, restaurants, marriage halls, etc, were closed.

Pakistan also sealed its western border with Afghanistan and Iran. Even Kartarpur shrine was closed for local people.

The National Coordination Committee (NCC) on Covid-19 had opened the construction industry on Aug 7, 2020, lifted restrictions on the tourism sector from Aug 8 and on restaurants and the transport sector from Aug 10. Educational institutions and marriage halls were opened from Sept 15, 2020.

In October 2020, the number of Covid-19 cases again started increasing rapidly and the NCOC declared it a second wave of the virus. Initially, educational institutions, from where cases were being reported, had been closed and then lockdown policy was announced for hot spots. As the situation continued to worsen, the NCOC had on Nov 11, 2020 decided to increase restrictions on different sectors. On Nov 26, 2020, it was once again decided to close educational institutions. The situation was controlled again due to which secondary schools and colleges were reopened on Jan 18, 2021 and primary/middle schools on Feb 1.

In March, the situation again started worsening due to which the third wave of coronavirus was declared and cases reached the peak in April due to which restrictions were again imposed. However, the number of Covid-19 cases started decreasing in May this year due to which it was decided to lift restrictions from June 15, and educational institutions were reopened.

However, now once again cases have started increasing and Eidul Azha is being focused by health departments as massive movement of people is expected due to the religious festival.

Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2021

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