With a rise in COVID-19 cases across the country in what is feared to be a third wave of the virus, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has reversed the earlier ease in restrictions across the country. However, private businesses, including markets and academic institutions, are resisting another lockdown.

Shop owners and traders in Rawalpindi and Islamabad have announced a strike against the government’s decision to impose a lockdown. The government has announced that milk and meat shops are to remain open between 7 am and 7 pm only. Protesting against this restriction, traders remain adamant that markets remain open till 10 pm.

Private educational institutions have also protested the government’s decision to keep schools and colleges closed for another two weeks. In the wake of rising coronavirus cases across Punjab, the NCOC decided to shut down educational institutions in seven districts of Punjab, including Lahore, from March 15 to 28. 

All Pakistan Private Schools and Colleges Association (APPSCA) rejected the NCOC’s decision to close schools in Punjab, Islamabad, and Peshawar, demanding that all educational institutions should reopen with strict implementation of COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPS).

“Educational institutions should immediately reopen with strict implementation of SOPs,” Malik Abrar, Chairperson APPSCA said.

“Airports, shopping malls, and markets are all open, and even the Senate elections are underway,” he added. “Is it only schools where coronavirus spreads?”

“If our demands are not met, we will join the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s long march,” he further said, threatening to join the opposition alliance in protest of the government’s decisions.

All Pakistan Private Schools Federation President Kashif Mirza said: “Millions of students across the country haven’t returned to schools at all, at least 700,000 teachers are still unemployed and over 10,000 schools have shut down.”

Three sub-sectors of Islamabad were sealed on Sunday to curb the spread of the virus, while the government of Punjab has imposed a smart lockdown in seven cities of the province. 17 areas in Gujrat, 16 in Lahore, and four in Rawalpindi have been sealed. Several areas in Sargodha, Multan, Gujranwala, and Faisalabad have also been sealed for the next two weeks.

Indoor wedding halls, shrines, cinemas, and community centres have been closed in the most affected areas of Gujarat, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Multan, and Gujranwala.

Before a surge in cases was registered, the government had announced that indoor dining, wedding halls, cinemas, and shrines will reopen on March 15. The decision now stands reversed.

As of March 15, Pakistan registered more than 2000 daily new cases of the virus for the fifth consecutive day.

In the last 24 hours, 2,253 people tested positive for COVID-19 in Pakistan while 29 lost their lives, according to the latest statistics released by the NCOC. Most casualties were seen in the province of Punjab followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

The total number active COVID-19 cases in Pakistan currently stands at 22,038. 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here