KARACHI: A market in Saddar being sealed by the assistant commissioner over the violation of Covid-related standard operating procedures on Thursday.—PPI
KARACHI: A market in Saddar being sealed by the assistant commissioner over the violation of Covid-related standard operating procedures on Thursday.—PPI

ISLAMABAD: Pointing out the threat of fourth wave of Covid-19 in the wake of recent rise in positive cases, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday urged the masses to continue the use of facemask and get themselves vaccinated as early as possible.

“Our [coronavirus] cases, after a downslide, have started rising up. We fear that the Delta variant is coming. I appeal to the nation to use facemask, which is the easiest way, and take protective measures. We can protect ourselves from the fourth wave of Covid-19,” he said in his remarks telecast live.

The prime minister’s warning came after the country reported the highest number of Covid-19 cases since June 4. The positivity of cases, which was around two per cent last month, has reached 3.33pc.

According to data released by the National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) on Thursday, 1,683 cases and 24 deaths were reported in a single day. Earlier, 1,923 cases were reported on June 4. The lowest number of cases since then was reported on June 21 when 663 people were infected with the virus.

Country reports highest number of infections since June 4; minister rules out complete lockdown

The data showed that 34,531 active cases were reported on Thursday and 2,235 patients were admitted to hospitals across the country. There were 201 patients on ventilators.

However, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Thursday said there was no proposal to impose complete lockdown during the fourth wave of coronavirus, but a proposal for smart lockdowns was on the cards.

On the other hand, the NCOC has decided to expedite the vaccination so that herd immunity could be achieved at the earliest.

Pakistan Medical Association general secretary Dr Qaiser Sajjad, while talking to Dawn, said that cases had again started increasing but people thought these were decreasing. “That is why people have stopped following standard operating procedures (SOPs). On the other hand, all markets and businesses have been opened. I have already said that since businesses have been opened, SOPs should be strictly implemented. I fear that the fourth wave of the pandemic may be announced by the end of July,” he warned.

Dr Sajjad said there were four variants of Covid-19 in Pakistan, but the Delta variant was the most lethal. He feared that the lockdown would be imposed before or just after Eidul Azha.

However, Minister for Planning Asad Umar said the government would not impose complete lockdown during the fourth wave of pandemic. Addressing an oath-taking ceremony of newly appointed members of the National Youth Council, the minister asked the masses to keep following the SOPs and get them vaccinated so that they and their families remained safe. He said that in case the ratio of positive cases went up, the government will impose smart lockdown.

An official at the Ministry of National Health Services, requesting not to be quoted, said that 416,363 persons were vaccinated on July 7. So far 18,644,598 doses have been administered. “We want to vaccinate 70pc of vaccine eligible population and achieve herd immunity by the end of the current year,” he added.

APP adds: Prime Minister Khan, who chaired a meeting to review the coronavirus situation in the country, said that with the spread of different variants of Covid-19, including the Delta variant due to constant mutation of coronavirus, the situation in various countries, including Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Indonesia, was worsening.

He said the masses, particularly those living in urban areas, should get themselves vaccinated as early as possible, as ample doses of the coronavirus vaccine were available in the country and more would be coming. Imran Khan said Pakistan with the grace of Almighty Allah had so far been fortunate in tackling the pandemic situation due to the government’s efforts as well as cooperation from the masses.

The prime minister also appreciated the efforts made by the NCOC to deal with the pandemic. He said the protective measures, including use of facemask, were also essential to the protect the country’s economy as well as people who could be affected due to lockdown and closure of businesses, marriage halls, restaurants, transport, etc.

He said the government wanted the wheels of economy running and did not want to go for lockdown due to coronavirus, which had enhanced the poverty level across the world. He urged the masses to take protective measures on the occasion of Eidul Azha to contain coronavirus cases.

PM Khan, while appreciating the role of districts’ administrations in ensuring the enforcement of SOPs during the previous waves of coronavirus, urged them to fulfil their responsibility of ensuring the use of facemask by people at public places.

He said that since Pakistan, unlike the US and the UK, was not a Covid-19 vaccine-producing country, it was importing the vaccine and complete vaccination of people would take time. He said Pakistan had successfully tackled the previous waves and the country could again be saved from the negative effects of Covid-19 through the cooperation of the masses, coupled with the government’s efforts and measures.

Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2021

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