Amid soaring cases, govt mulls opening more sectors


–NCOC recommends keeping schools closed till August, restaurants to remain restricted to takeaway service only

–Marriage halls likely to be allowed to operate with limited number of guests, one-dish rule

ISLAMABAD: In order to evade a meltdown due to adverse impact of Covid-19 on the economy, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has decided to open more businesses in compliance with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in line with the feedback from the provinces.

The decision was taken in a meeting held at NCOC for analysing long and short-term strategy on Covid-19 titled ‘Living with the Pandemic’, chaired by Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar.

The NCOC recommended that the educational institutes should be kept closed till August, as the summer season and pandemic would be at its peak in July.

Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar said restaurants under the “negative list”, would have to remain closed; however, they could partially resume their operations, such as takeaway services.

The forum insisted that the marriage halls should only be allowed to operate with a limited number of guests, one dish, and “strict” compliance of the SOPs.

Asad Umar directed the concerned authorities to calculate the economic impacts of Covid-19 in the first quarter of the current calendar year.

The NCOC stressed that capacity building and restructuring of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination should be done as per approval by the federal cabinet.

The forum was also apprised that the critical care resources would be increased owing to the surging risk of the pandemic. The forum was informed that the testing capacity of Covid-19 was being increased to 6,72,000 tests.

Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, Khusroo Bakhtiar said that National Integrated Management System should be put in place for better coordination between the federal and the provinces.


Addressing a press conference after the NCOC meeting,  Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza appealed to the masses to strictly follow precautionary protocols and social distancing measures to contain the spread of Covid-19.

He said that wearing face masks at crowded places has been made mandatory to prevent the spread of coronavirus, which has so far infected more than 67,000 and killed over 1,400 people across Pakistan.

Dr Mirza said that 78 people, including four health workers, died of the virus in the last 24 hours, which is the largest number in a single day in the country.

He said healthcare workers were the frontline force in the fight against Covid-19 and the government has taken a number of measures to protect them under “We Care” programme.

Regarding some messages circulating on social media based on disinformation, the PM’s aide urged the opinion-makers to guide people on how to prevent the contagion instead of forwarding and promoting fake news on digital platforms.

He also urged families of Covid-19 patients to demonstrate patience, while interacting with health workers at hospitals, who are treating the affected people.

Dr Mirza said that recovery rate of coronavirus patients is 36 per cent, while locally transmission rate stands at 92 per cent and despite the rise in the cases, only around 25 per cent of our health system has been engaged so far.


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