Task force seeks army’s help to contain Covid in Hazara

Published August 28, 2021
A senior citizen receives a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Peshawar. — AFP/File
A senior citizen receives a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Peshawar. — AFP/File

PESHAWAR: The provincial task force on coronavirus has decided to seek the Pakistan Army’s help for the civil administration in Hazara division to stem a spike in the infection positivity rate.

The task force, which met here on Friday with Chief Minister Mahmood Khan in the chair, also directed the police to take the lead in ensuring the people’s compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) in the province.

Official statistics show that the province recorded at least 25 deaths from Covid-19 and 605 new cases during the last 24 hours. A total of 4,909 people in the province have so far lost life to the virus since its outbreak early last year.

Peshawar has the highest positivity rate of 15.7 per cent in the province.

According to an official statement issued here, the task force expressed serious concerns about the increasing Covid-19 positivity rate and non-compliance of SOPs and NPIs in the province and decided to take measures to ensure the people’s strict adherence to SOPs and NPIs already notified by the government to contain the spread of the virus.

Orders fixing of deadline to block mobile SIMs over vaccination refusal

It agreed on the strictly monitoring of the prevailing situation on a daily basis and imposition of further restrictions where needed.

The task force also considered the idea of blocking mobile SIM cards of the people not vaccinated against Covid-19 and directed the authorities concerned to fix a deadline for the purpose and create public awareness of it.

Peshawar Corps Commander Lt-General Nauman Mahmood, cabinet members, chief secretary Dr Kazim Niaz, Inspector General of Police Moazzam Jah Ansari, administrative secretaries of the relevant departments, and other officials attended the meeting.

The participants voiced dissatisfaction with low Covid-19 vaccination rates in Peshawar and directed the health department and district administration to take concrete steps to achieve the desired target of vaccination.

They were informed that the overall coronavirus vaccination rate in the province was quite satisfactory as one million people were being vaccinated daily across the country, while the vaccine was administered to 0.2 million people every day in the province.

The task force decided to declare two days a week (Saturday and Sunday) off-days throughout the province declaring all markets and shops except those of essential services would be closed on those days.

It decided in principle to suspend elective services on the need basis in hospitals of most pandemic-hit areas and directed the health department to take necessary steps wherever the need arose.

In view of the sensitivity of the situation with regard to coronavirus in certain districts of Hazara division, the participants decided to engage 10 Corps of the Pakistan Army to help the local administration stem the spread of the virus.

On the occasion, district administrations and tehsil municipal administrations were directed to improve free distribution of face masks to the people.

The task force called for large-scale public awareness of coronavirus vaccination to address misconceptions and asked the relevant departments to use all platforms of mass communication for the purpose.

It also expressed dissatisfaction with the low rate of contact tracing of Covid-19 patients and directed the quarters concerned to ensure its increase to the desired level.

Regarding the plan of the health department to enhance the capacity of public sector hospitals to deal with coronavirus patient, the forum was informed that the department was working to add 1,450 beds to the hospitals for such cases, including 363 low-flow, 864 high- dependency and 249 ICU ones.

The chief minister directed the administration to ensure strict enforcement of preventive measures against coronavirus to contain the pandemic and said the situation would be monitored regularly and the government would go for more restrictions during the next couple of weeks if the need arose.

He appreciated the performance of certain district administrations in achieving the coronavirus vaccination targets and said officials of such administrations would receive appreciation certificates.

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2021

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