The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Friday decided to enforce a number of additional non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) in districts with high coronavirus prevalence in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad, including shutting down educational institutions for a week.
Additional restrictions from Sept 4-12:
- All outdoor and indoor gatherings will be banned.
- All indoor gyms will remain closed.
- Intercity public transport will be banned.
- Educational institutions will remain closed.
In a notification, the NCOC said the restrictions would be applicable from Sept 4 to 12 in 15 districts of Punjab; Rawalpindi, Lahore, Gujrat, Gujranwala, Sheikhupura, Sialkot, Faisalabad, Sargodha, Khushab, Mianwali, Bhakkar, Khanewal, Multan, Bahawalpur and Rahim Yar Khan; eight districts of KP; Peshawar, Swabi, Malakand, Swat, Haripur, Abbottabad, Mansehra and Dera Ismail Khan; and Islamabad.
Under the new restrictions, all types of outdoor and indoor gatherings and intercity public transport will be banned while indoor gyms and educational institutions will remain closed.
The restrictions were announced after taking a detailed stock of the current disease situation in different districts, daily hospital admissions, pressure on critical care and availability of oxygen, the NCOC said, adding that they will be reviewed on Sept 9.
The additional measures come as Pakistan's death toll crossed 26,000 on Friday (today) and more than 5,600 coronavirus patients remained admitted to critical care.
A day earlier, NCOC head and federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said that the number of hospital inflows and patients in critical care were at the "highest level" since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
The impact of the Delta variant in Pakistan showed that it spread faster and increased the chances of Covid patients being hospitalised, in line with global trends, he added.
"Please follow [SOPs] & vaccinate," Umar advised citizens.
Citizens below 18 to be administered Pfizer vaccine
The NCOC had on Wednesday revised its Covid-19 vaccination guidelines for citizens below the age of 18.
"The general public age group for vaccination has been lowered to 17 years," the NCOC said, adding that the Pfizer vaccine will be administered to those who are below 18 years of age.
The statement added that immunocompromised individuals between 12 to 17 years of age will also be vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine.
However, they will currently need to show their medical documents as proof as the vaccination drive has only been opened to persons above 17 years of age for now.
The National Health Services ministry spokesperson, Sajid Shah, had said at the time that individuals over 17 years would have to get one dose by Sept 15 and be fully vaccinated by Oct 15 otherwise they would not be allowed to enter educational institutions.