Asad Umar warns of second lockdown amidst rising COVID 19 cases

Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Sunday said that the country’s Covid-19 positivity rate has risen above two per cent after a six-week average of less than 2pc, urging people to cooperate with the authorities in following coronavirus precautionary measures.

“Mini smart lockdowns have been imposed in Karachi, Islamabad and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Instructions have been issued to administrations across the country to ensure that precautionary measures are followed. But like in the past, success is impossible without the cooperation of the people,” Umar tweeted.

Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood, echoing Umar’s call for adhering to precautions, said that Pakistanis have been “lucky so far” but they must follow pre-emptive measures to prevent a second wave of the virus in the country.

“Large public gatherings must not take place. These alone can unleash second wave,” the minister cautioned.

The appeals by the ministers come as Punjab on Sunday confirmed 203 new Covid-19 infections in the last 24 hours — the first time since August 15 that the province has recorded more than 200 cases — taking its total infections to 100,687.

A day earlier, the Islamabad local administration decided to reimpose a ‘mini smart lockdown’ in various areas after an increase in Covid-19 cases was reported in the city.

Similar measures were taken by administrations in Karachi and AJK; at the start of October, the Sindh government imposed mini smart lockdown in various neighbourhoods in Karachi, including Manghopir, Creek Vista Apartment in Phase VIII of DHA and sub-division of Saddar after continued increase in coronavirus cases.

Last week, AJK officials expressed serious concern over increasing number of Covid-19 patients — particularly in Muzaffarabad and Rawalakot districts — and directed concerned officials to impose a lockdown and come up with comprehensive and effective suggestions within two days, according to an official handout.

Earlier this week, the National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) proposed restrictions on large-scale public gatherings and issued fresh guidelines for marriage halls after the country saw a rise in Covid-19 infections in recent weeks.

According to officials privy to the development, the NCOC pointed out that large-scale public gatherings were prohibited in most countries as they had the potential to cause an exponential increase in infections.

They said these gatherings should ideally not take place at all, but if unavoidable, must be organised with strict compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for which deliberations were under way.

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