• Condition of one-day weekly business closure lifted
• Cinemas, shrines opened for vaccinated people
• Number of guests at wedding functions increased
• Minister warns against ignoring vaccination
• PM aide hints at long-term strategy

ISLAMABAD: As Covid-19 cases continue to fall in the country, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Friday lifted restrictions on one-day weekly closure of businesses and reopened cinemas and shrines for fully vaccinated people.

However, non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) would remain in place from October 16 till 31 in districts with high prevalence of coronavirus cases.

According to a statement issued by the forum, the condition of keeping businesses closed once a week had been removed while cinemas and shrines can be visited by citizens who are completely immunised.

The NCOC also raised the number of guests attending indoor weddings from 200 to 300 and those participating in outdoor marriage events from 300 to 500. It further said the NPIs would be reviewed at a meeting scheduled for October 28.

Friday’s meeting assessed the coronavirus situation in the country and decided to relax curbs as less number of cases was being reported in the country.

On the other hand, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, who also heads the NCOC, advised people to get themselves inoculated at the earliest and shared results of the Gallup Pakistan survey.

In his tweet, the minister said: “Accord­ing to results of the survey, as many as 86pc of the people believe that Covid-19 will be controlled soon. We are thankful to the nation from the core of our hearts for their confidence on us. But, it will only be possible if people go for vaccination as soon as possible otherwise there is a high risk of Covid-19 spreading with the advent of winter.”

Traders welcome NCOC decision

Traders have welcomed the decision of the NCOC, terming it a move forward towards creating a conducive business environment.

“We welcome the NCOC’s decision of lifting the one-day business closure condition and, at the same time, assure the government that standard operating procedures (SOPs) would be followed on our premises,” Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) President Nadeem Rauf told Dawn.

He said Covid-19 had not ended and as responsible citizens, the business community would ensure that all safety measures were followed in markets and business places.

“We understand that it is not the time to go lax, therefore we have engaged all traders’ associations to create awareness among our community on the importance of following health protocols issued by the NCOC,” Mr Rauf said, adding that the business community, particularly the hotel and tourism industries, had borne the brunt of the deadly virus.

Meanwhile, 1,086 Covid-19 cases were recorded in the country during the last 24 hours, with 27 people losing their battle against coronavirus.

According to data, the number of active patients was 28,228 while the positivity ratio stood at 2.02 per cent.

The last time the country reported less than 40,000 cases was on July 13 when 39,644 people got infected.

The data further revealed that the number of active patients had decreased slightly and 1,415 people recovered during the last 24 hours. With the latest figure, the tally of total recoveries so far has reached 1,194,590.

It may be mentioned here that 1,006,284 Covid-19 vaccines were administered on Oct 14, after which the total number of doses given so far has reached 95,461,219.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan on Friday said the government would make a long-term effective strategy to miminise the effect of future outbreaks in the country.

Addressing the first consultative session of infection and disease control committee in Islamabad, Dr Sultan said learning from the Covid-19 experience, the government would focus more on training of its healthcare workers.

“The government will also enhance coordination with provinces to avoid any pandemic-like situation in future and work on a joint health strategy,” he said, adding that bringing in more investment in the health sector was being considered.

He also urged citizens to follow health protocols to prevent transmission of the virus and praised the NCOC for playing an effective role in managing the outbreak in the country.

“Covid-19 is a deadly virus, but we can control it by following SOPs and save precious lives, including those of our near and dear ones,” the special assistant said.

He said Covid-19 vaccine was very effective to protect citizens from medical complications from several variants, and called on everyone to get immunised.

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2021

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