ISLAMABAD: The National Coordination Committee (NCC) on Friday imposed a ban on indoor dining till Eid and closed schools in districts that have a positivity rate above five per cent in a bid to contain the coronavirus situation that is growing worse by every passing day.
In a bid to force people to follow anti-coronavirus precautions, such as wearing masks and closing markets at 6pm, Prime Minister Imran Khan, who chaired the NCC meeting, said that he has asked the Pakistan Army to help police in the implementation of the SOPs.
The PM has warned that if precautions are not taken then the country can face an India-like situation i.e. collapse of the healthcare system due to a high number of cases. “I appeal to all that if we don’t take precautions then we are on the path of becoming India within two weeks,” he said, adding that a lockdown will have to be imposed if things continue to go south.
“If our circumstances become the same as India, then we will have to close down cities. We can’t do that because, as experience has shown, the poor suffer the most when lockdowns are imposed,” he said.
“Currently we don’t have as bad conditions as India does because a year back we had raised the capacity of the hospitals,” he said in a reference to the first wave when Pakistan was completely shut down to contain the virus.
Meanwhile, National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) head Asad Umar said schools will remain closed in the districts that have a positivity rate above 5 per cent. The government has also decided to ban outdoor dining till Eid, he said, adding that takeaway services will be allowed to operate. The offices will continue to work on 50 per cent capacity, the minister said.
Umar said indoor gyms will remain closed, adding that offices will be closed at 2pm to facilitate people as markets close at 6pm as per the new restrictions.
The minister warned of a complete lockdown in case of the violation of the SOPs, saying that Pakistan is not equipped to deal with an India-like situation. “Our oxygen supply is currently being utilised at 90% — 80% of this is being used due to COVID-19,” he said, adding that the government is working on ramping up oxygen supply.
The decisions were taken during a meeting of the National Coordination Committee chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan. It was attended by the chief secretaries of all provinces.
148 DEATHS, 11 PER CENT POSITIVITY RATE:
Meanwhile, Pakistan reported 144 deaths and at least 5,870 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, said the NCOC in its daily statement on Friday.
Out of 144 deaths, 57 patients died on the ventilators. At least 4,652 patients are in a critical condition, as per the NCOC.
On Thursday, 72 died in Punjab, 14 in Sindh, 37 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, three in Islamabad, one in Balochistan, and six in Azad Kashmir.
On Wednesday, NCOC head and Planning Minister Asad Umar said that the government will be forced to impose a lockdown in major cities if the current trajectory of coronavirus infections continues in Pakistan.
Speaking to reporters after the NCOC meeting, Umar had said that the coronavirus situation in Pakistan was “extremely serious”. “Take care of yourself and your fellow Pakistanis. The situation needs to be taken seriously.”