ISLAMABAD: As the country reported the lowest number of Covid-19 cases on Monday since Jan 12, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) allowed the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to conduct the Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches in Lahore with 100 per cent stadium capacity from 16th of the current month.

Moreover, unvaccinated children, under 12 years of age, will also be allowed to watch matches in the stadium. The Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) for Inbound Passengers on arrival at the country’s airports has been abolished with effect from today (Tuesday).

According to an NCOC statement, the meeting, presided over by Federal Mini­ster for Planning, Develop­ment and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, discussed the epidemic data, national vaccination progress, inbound health protocols and the second phase of the ongoing PSL matches.

The NCOC allowed the PCB to hold PSL Lahore matches with 50pc stadium capacity for fully vaccinated spectators till Feb 15 and from Feb 16 onwards with 100pc stadium capacity for fully vaccinated spectators.

Children under 12 years of age (unvaccinated) will also be allowed to watch matches in the stadium.

Moreover, the Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) for Inbound Passengers on arrival at the country’s airports has been abolished with effect from Feb 8, but RAT will continue to be conducted for deportees from foreign countries and for non-vaccinated individuals arriving from land border terminals.

According to the NCOC data, as many as 3,338 infections and 38 deaths were reported over the past 24 hours. Earlier, less than 3,300 cases were reported on Jan 12 when 3,019 people were infected.

The number of active cases stood at 89,192 on Feb 7. Earlier, the number had surpassed the figure of 100,000. As many as 1,833 patients were admitted to hospitals on Monday. Of these, 156 patients were on ventilators across the country.

Rates fixed for Covid-19 tests

Meanwhile, the Islamabad Health Regulatory Authority (IHRA) has fixed maximum rates for Covid-19 tests.

According to a document available with Dawn, all private hospitals, laboratories and collection centers conducting RT-PCR tests had been directed to freeze the rates of PCR tests.

They have been told that Rs5,000 would be charged for using Roche/Abbot/Qiagen Kits and Rs3,500 would be charged for tests through all other kits.

Moreover, labs have also been directed to mention machines (used during the test), reagents/kits with their certification and individual batch number of kits in the reports.

Earlier on Feb 1, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan had issued a letter stating that Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) were allowed and kits would remain available Over The Counter (OTC) to facilitate the people.

“It is one of the simplest and quickest ways to test for Covid-19. Some of the RATs are performed by labs, but others can be performed by persons themselves (self-test). The sample required for such tests may include nasal swab or saliva specimen,” it stated.

The letter said that as RATs decreased the chances of virus spread, the OTC testing devices were allowed at the pharmacies/medical stores and these devices and medicines could be purchased and sold without prescriptions of medical experts.

Meanwhile, there were reports that Chinese RAT kits were being sold for Rs350 and European kits for Rs800 in the wholesale markets of the country, but laboratories have been charging up to Rs 5,000 for these tests.'

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2022

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