ISLAMABAD: Amid health authorities expressing fears of a second wave of the coronavirus in Pakistan, the National Command and Operations Centre on Saturday decided to seek the public’s assistance to ensure compliance with government-devised health guidelines to curtail the spread of the pandemic.
According to a new system, citizens can report the flouting of standard operating procedures to the authority at its WhatsApp number.
“Wherever you see violations taking place […] Mask wearing in crowded places, social distancing […] Take a [picture] & send [it] to 0335 3336262 along with location,” Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, who also heads the NCOC, tweeted.
With arrival of the 2nd wave & continued widescale violation of sop’s, NCOC has decided to seek citizens help for sop compliance. Wherever you see violations taking place..Mask wearing in crowded places, social distancing.. Take a pic & send to 0335 3336262 alongwith location pic.twitter.com/Piry5hlEmp
— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) October 31, 2020
The decision, Umar said, was taken in view of the second wave and continued violations of guidelines. It comes a day after Pakistan reported more than 1,000 cases of Covid-19 for the first time since July.
An NCOC statement issued Friday said 1,078 people tested positive for the virus on Thursday while 20 others died of the respiratory illness.
According to the government portal keeping track of coronavirus cases, Pakistan currently has 12,121 active cases.
Pakistan has witnessed a surge in the Covid-19 positivity ratio in recent days. A day earlier, Umar said the national positivity rate had exceeded three per cent after more than 70 days.
Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid also urged the nation to wear face masks and practice social distancing to curb the spread of the virus. “If standard operating procedures are not followed, I’m afraid we will have to resort to stricter measures,” she tweeted.
The NCOC on Wednesday issued a notification directing all commercial sectors in 11 cities to shutter their operations by 10:00 pm.
“Due to [a] consistent increase in positivity percentage and disease prevalence during [the] last two weeks, NCOC has decided” to implement restrictions in cities with more than 2 percent positivity, read the notification.
Around 80 percent of all Covid-19 cases are reported from Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Multan, Hyderabad, Gilgit, Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Peshawar and Quetta, it said.
Under the new guidelines, which went into effect from Thursday, all residents of these cities are bound to adhere to the following directions:
- Mandatory face masks in all confined spaces, including indoors, public transport, markets
- Closure of all commercial activities, including markets, shopping malls, marriage halls, restaurants at 10:00 pm daily, and amusement/public parks at 6:00 pm daily. This will not apply to “essential services” such as medical stores and hospitals.
The body also said that anyone not wearing masks in public places could be fined from Rs6,000 to Rs35,000, and could also be punished with six months’ imprisonment; this measure will come into force from Monday after the Eid Miladun Nabi celebrations.