ISLAMABAD: The federal government is easing coronavirus-related restrictions across Pakistan to facilitate the business and tourism sectors, with utter disregard to the fact that Covid-19 cases are once again surging in several parts of the country.
According to the data released by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), fresh coronavirus cases had been declining in the country since July 24, with the lowest number recorded on August 2. Ever since then, the cases have been on the rise.
Punjab witnessed a sudden increase in fresh cases soon after Eidul Azha, with fresh cases once again increasing to around 300 after staying below 100 for a week, raising alarms about the beginning of a second wave of the virus in the country.
On Friday, Pakistan reported a total of 782 new cases and 17 deaths over the last 24 hours. The active cases across the country stand at 18,494 while recoveries reached 258,099. So far, 2,079,333 tests have been conducted in the country.
Out of total cases across the country so far, 122,759 cases have been detected in Sindh, 94,040 in Punjab, 34,432 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 11,821 in Balochistan, 15,182 in Islamabad, 2,124 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), and 2,287 in Gilgit Baltistan (GB).
Of the total coronavirus-related fatalities, 2,245 occurred in Sindh, 2,162 in Punjab, 1,215 in KP, 136 in Balochistan, 167 in Islamabad, 55 in GB, and 55 in AJK.
On Thursday, addressing a press conference, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar had said that the coronavirus outbreak in the country has been brought under control because of the effective strategy of government institutions, the untiring efforts of doctors and paramedical staff, and the cooperation of the people of Pakistan.
Talking about the decisions taken during the National Coordination Committee (NCC), he had said that educational institutions across the country would be allowed to reopen from September 15 after a final review by the Ministry of Education on September 7.
He had also said that cinema halls and the hospitality sector, including hotels and restaurants, would also be allowed to resume operations from August 10, while the tourism sector would start functioning from August 8. He had added that outdoor and indoor non-contact games would also be allowed from August 10.
The minister had said that marriage halls would be allowed to operate from September 15 while beauty parlors would be allowed to reopen from August 10.
He had further said that restrictions on trains and airlines which were already operational would be lifted in October. Similarly, the road transport would be allowed to operate from August 10 but passengers would not be allowed to travel by standing in metro buses, he had added.
Dr Mujahid Gilani, a senior Covid-19 resident at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), said that the spike in cases was because of disregard for precautions during Eidul Azha and feared the impact would increase in the coming days or weeks.
“It is always a phenomenon that in contagious viral diseases, the second spike is always strong and may turn deadly. We have entered the second spike. We are prepared to deal with it,” he said.
He also said that the government was preparing for a spike during Eidul Azha and the month of Muharram.
Dr Gilani said that the number of fresh infections may increase to thousands on a daily basis, but added that the government was ready to deal with another spike in cases.
Pakistan Today made successive efforts to contact Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan but his comment could not be obtained by the time of filing of this report.