–SAPM says adhering to precautionary measures only way to steer clear of crisis-like situation
ISLAMABAD: As the country continues to witness a surge in fresh coronavirus infections, the authorities on Wednesday warned of strict measures to control the spread of the pandemic if there is no improvement in compliance with health guidelines.
The meeting comes a day after Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar warned the nation that it was collectively committing a blunder by recklessly ignoring all standard operating procedures (SOPs). He had also disclosed the virus-related mortality rate which he said has increased by 140 per cent.
Separately, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan also warned against a second wave of the contagion.
He said that the government is anticipating to get a clearer picture on the situation within the next two weeks. He warned if precautionary measures are not strictly observed, the country could face health threats.
Islamabad, among other big cities, is facing the fast spread of the viral infection, he said, while cautioning that the fatality rate, this time around, due to novel coronavirus is higher as well. Dr Sultan said the only way to steer clear of the crisis-like situation, which may arise due to the second wave of Covid-19, is to take stricter precautionary measures and to observe them seriously.
He feared if the people take this warning easily and fail to undertake precautions, the virus could take the country hostage again prompting the authorities to declare a lockdown.
The SAPM, however, affirmed that the academic institutions draw a relatively better picture when it comes to following Covid-19 SOPs.
During a special session to monitor an increase in cases on Wednesday, the NCOC was informed that there is a clear resurgence of the virus while deaths are also increasing.
According to a statement, all four provincial chief secretaries were asked to strictly implement government-devised health guidelines. The forum also identified markets, marriage halls, restaurants and public gatherings as high risk. “Strict punitive actions on SOP violations will be initiated,” the statement said, adding that wearing of face masks and social distancing must be ensured,” it added.
Since the outbreak of the virus in the country in February, the maximum nationwide positivity rate was recorded in June when within three weeks it jumped to 23 per cent from 6 per cent. It came down to the minimum of 1.7 per cent last month.
Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan feared a second wave of Covid-19 in the coming months in cities where pollution levels are high.
“I fear that in these two months, October and November […] cities like Faisalabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Gujranwala where there is more pollution […] there might be a second spike in coronavirus cases. The cases are rising gradually and we hope that they don’t increase quickly; we are monitoring it,” he had said.
The following day, Dr Sultan said considering the recent number of cases, there was a possibility of a second wave as people had stopped taking precautionary measures.
According to the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), 660 fresh infections emerged during this period, lifting the national tally of cases to 324,744. As many as 26,670 new tests were conducted over the previous 24 hours. There are 9,378 active cases of the coronavirus as 308,674 patients have recovered from the disease.
So far, Sindh has reported 142,348 cases, followed by Punjab that reported 101,936 cases while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) reported 38,779, Balochistan 15,717, Islamabad 18,309, Gilgit Baltistan (GB) 4,091 and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) has reported 3,564 cases.
In Punjab, at least nine people fell prey to the coronavirus in Punjab over the past 24 hours, taking the provincial tally of fatalities from the disease to 2,319. A spokesperson for the Primary and Secondary Health Department said as many as 176 new cases of the deadly disease surfaced during this period, pushing the total number of cases so far reported in the province to 10,1936. So far, more than 1.4 million samples have been tested across the province while 97,271 patients have recovered.
According to government data, of total 1,884 ventilators allocated for Covid-19 patients, as many as 80 ventilators were in use and there was no patient on a ventilator in Balochistan and AJK.