SOPs tightened for tourists amid virus surge

Published July 12, 2021
A man wearing a protective mask walks through a crowd of people along a makeshift market in Karachi on January 17. — Reuters
A man wearing a protective mask walks through a crowd of people along a makeshift market in Karachi on January 17. — Reuters

ISLAMABAD: While the highest number of new Covid-19 cases since June 2 has been reported and situation may worsen by Eidul Azha, head of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) Asad Umar has said that in Pakistan 27 million people, over the age of 50, are the most vulnerable to serious effects of the infection but only 20 per cent of them have received at least one shot of vaccine.

The NCOC has amended standard operating procedures (SOPs) for some of the sectors, including tourism, and it has been decided that the SOPs would be strictly implemented to avoid chances of a complete lockdown. People lacking vaccination certificates will not be allowed to enter tourist spots in Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Jammu and Kashmir during Eid holidays.

“Pakistan has 2 crore 72 lakh people who are 50 years or older. This age group is most vulnerable to serious health effect of Covid. So far 56 lakh or 20.6% of these have gotten at least 1 dose of vaccine. Please encourage all in this age group to vaccinate as soon as possible,” federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar tweeted on Sunday.

NCOC chief cautions people over 50 years of age

The data of the NCOC showed that as many as 27 deaths and 1,980 new cases were reported in a single day. Earlier 2,028 cases were reported on June 2 and since then fewer number of cases were being reported. The lowest number of cases was reported on June 21 when only 663 persons were infected.

The data further showed that there were 37,499 active cases as of July 11, out of which 2,390 patients were admitted to hospitals. The number of active cases was around 31,000 last month but it started increasing in last week of June.

Meanwhile, the NCOC has warned that there are high chances of virus spread on the occasion of Eidul Azha as the people are violating the SOPs.

“There are a number of variants of the Covid-19 so there is more need to ensure implementation of the SOPs in high-risk sectors. All provinces have been directed to take steps to curtail spread of the virus and establish teams to ensure that people wear masks and maintain social distancing,” the NCOC said.

The provinces have been advised to ensure that people strictly adhere to the SOPs in the cattle markets.

Hotels of Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and AJK have been directed not to provide rooms to those people who have not been vaccinated. Moreover, special teams will be deployed to stop such people from entering tourist destinations.

The provinces have been further directed to ensure that non-vaccinated people do not enter restaurants, gymnasiums, cinemas and wedding halls. Moreover, it will also be verified whether vaccination certificates are genuine.

An official of Ministry of the National Health Services, requesting not to be named, said that bus stops, railway stations, cattle markets, intercity transport terminals, markets and mosques were major source of virus spread.

“NCOC has issued a checklist for district administrations and they have been directed to take strict action against the violators,” he said.

“We appeal to the masses to get themselves vaccinated so that they are protected and do not become sources of virus spread,” he said.

According to data of the NCOC, 19,883,900 doses of vaccines have been administered to people so far.

Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2021

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