–PM declares next two months crucial as Pakistan grapples with increasing cases
LAHORE: As the country reported 825 fresh infections of the coronavirus after conducting 29,477 tests in the last 24 hours with an inflated positivity ratio of 2.8 per cent, the government on Wednesday made it mandatory for all citizens to wear a face mask when stepping out of their homes.
The decision was taken during a meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) which asked all four provinces to ensure that people wear face masks and adhere to government-devised health guidelines, particularly in markets, shopping malls, public transport and restaurants.
The directive comes a day after Dr Faisal Sultan, special assistant to the prime minister on health, warned the country was currently experiencing the start of a second wave of the virus. Addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Tuesday, he had said if the situation continued to worsen, new quarantine restrictions could be introduced to curtail the virus.
The NCOC statement also said the positivity ratio for coronavirus had reached 80 percent in 11 major cities. “4,374 lockdowns imposed in 11 cities of Pakistan, including Quetta, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan, Peshawar, Islamabad, Hyderabad, Mirpur, Karachi, Gilgit and Muzaffarabad,” It added.
The NCOC also issued a warning to business owners to shut down their establishments by 10 pm. This decision was made in an attempt to curb the spread of Covid-19, and it applies to restaurants, wedding halls, commercial markets, and shopping malls. Areas of recreation have been asked to shut down by 6 pm. Essential services such as medical stores, clinics and hospitals will remain open.
Health authorities have been sounding the alarm about a second wave of the virus for several weeks now. Daily infections and deaths are once more on the rise, raising fears that disease is making a comeback as the public becomes more apathetic toward social distancing measures.
“A few weeks ago, we were getting 400 to 500 cases per day, but now it has increased to 700 to 750 cases. Moreover, the mortality rate has also increased. Another ratio which is considered is percentage positivity — the number of positive cases in samples of 100 — that remained less than two percent, but now it has reached close to 3 per cent,” Sultan had told the presser.
It is worth mentioning here that the country has yet to fully utilise its testing capacity of 72,232 and is currently testing significantly below numbers proposed by global health experts.
Meanwhile, in the 24 hours, the number of confirmed cases surged to 330,200. Deaths increased by 14 to 6,759. At the same time, recoveries increased by 374 to 311,814, or 94.4 percent of total infections.
There are currently 11,627 active virus cases in the country, with the government’s database for tracking the spread of the pandemic reporting 611 of them are in critical condition.
PM DECLARES NEXT TWO MONTHS CRUCIAL:
Separately, Declaring the next two months crucial, Prime Minister Imran Khan urged the people to take precautionary measures as the second wave of the novel coronavirus has hit the country.
Addressing the Insaf Doctors Forum convention on Wednesday, the premier lauded the services of doctors and paramedics who are at the forefront in the country’s fight against Covid-19 pandemic.
He said that the number of coronavirus patients is increasing due to the second wave of the virus and “we must have to adopt preventive measures in this regard”.