The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Wednesday issued a warning that if coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs) are not followed by the public, then services would be ordered to once again shut down.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise, markets, marriage halls, restaurants, transport services and public gatherings have been identified by the NCOC as high-risk areas for the spread of the virus. This was reiterated during a special session held at the NCOC to monitor the recent trends of the virus, where chief secretaries of all provinces were also present.

In a statement released by the Ministry of National Health Services, it was announced that the NCOC is closely monitoring the situation and will impose strict measures if no improvement regarding compliance to health guidelines is observed. It was also stated that with a resurgence in the number of COVID-19 cases and subsequent deaths, all chief secretaries have been assigned with ensuring compliance with SOPs.

Suggesting stricter enforcement of health guidelines, the statement said: “Strict punitive actions on SOPs’ violations will be initiated.”

Dr Faisal Sultan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, also issued a warning on Wednesday regarding the worsening situation of the virus in major cities such as Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Multan, Mirpur, Muzaffarabad and Gilgit.

“If the masses continue to violate health protocols, we can face a similar situation as seen in June this year. It is our collective responsibility to avoid such a situation from arising,” he warned.

He also emphasised on the need of people to wear masks, sanitise and wash hands, practise social distancing and avoid public gatherings. He urged business owner and shopkeepers to also ensure these rules are followed in their workplaces.

“Shopkeepers have pasted the sign ‘No Mask No Entry’ outside their outlets, but this is not being followed. It is feared that the number of cases might increase rapidly as 19 people died of the virus throughout the country on Oct 20. I fear that we will have to impose restrictions again if people continue to violate health protocols,” he said.

Dr Sultan further emphasised on the coming two weeks as crucial to Pakistan’s efforts to curb the spread of the virus. He maintained that in order to keep business and services open, the public must abide by all necessary guidelines.

With the onset of winter, the virus is likely to spread in the coming months. Recent upward trends in COVID-19 cases, with around 600 being reported a day, have necessitated the need for strict implementation of SOPs.


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