By News desk
By our correspondents
ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Saturday showed serious concern over sharp rise in national positivity of COVID-19 which was visible, and hovering around 5-6 percent.
The special NCOC morning session was held to take a review of rising disease trends here, chaired by Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar. The forum noted that the rising disease trend was a matter of serious concern where the major contributors were Punjab, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and few cities of KP and AJK.
The forum was briefed that all federating units were asked to take immediate actions for strict implementation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The forum also lauded the steps taken by Punjab for disease control. However, further steps for disease control including expanded lock downs in various cities of Punjab including Islamabad and certain cities of KP were also under consideration.
"SOPs implementation week will be implemented across the country from today onwards," the Forum underscored. It said the citizen were requested to once again display good example of social behaviour and follow COVID related SOPs on public places and mosques also for collective wellbeing.
The forum mentioned that vaccination drive for elderly population was going on since March 10. "Senior Citizen are encouraged to get themselves vaccinated from designated vaccination centers," it added. The forum requested the provinces to ensure smooth continuation of vaccination drive for health care workers and elderly citizen.
Meanwhile, forty six more deaths and 2,338 new cases of COVID-19 were reported across the country over the last twenty four hours. According to the latest statistics of National Command and Operation Centre NCOC 5,69,296 people have so far recovered from the disease;
Pakistan has extended the duration of restrictions imposed on inbound flights, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said Saturday, as the country's coronavirus cases moved past 600,000. The restrictions will remain in place till March 18, the CAA said in a notification issued in this regard. The country's COVID-19 infections have reached 602,536 since the first case reported last February, with 13,476 people succumbing to the virus. Punjab, after the UK virus variant, started spreading across the province, imposed new restrictions that will start Saturday night.
The CAA, on March 1, had notified a new travel advisory for inbound flights, private, and chartered planes. The aviation authority reduced the countries in Category A from 24 to 15, while the ban on passengers from countries in Category C remained intact.
Australia, Bhutan, China, Fiji, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka are among the 21 countries included in Category A, according to the notification.
Meanwhile, Botswana, Brazil, Columbia, Ghana, Ireland, United Kingdom, Zambia, and The Netherlands are among the 15 countries included in Category C.
It is pertinent to mention here that the passengers from countries included in Category A do not require a COVID-19 PCR test before landing in Pakistan. Passengers from countries in Category B need to have a negative test, not less than 72 hours old.
As per the notification, those living in Category C countries will have to obtain special permission from the government of Pakistan if they wish to travel to the country.
The Punjab government on Saturday imposed smart lockdown in a number of areas of Lahore, Rawalpindi and Gujrat to minimise the risk of third wave of coronavirus pandemic.
According to a Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department (P&SHD) Punjab spokesperson, the smart lockdown is being imposed in those areas where excessive corona cases have been reported. The smart lockdown has been implemented in 16 areas of the provincial capital, four areas of Rawalpindi and 17 areas of Gujrat.
In the provincial capital, street 15 X-block DHA Phase-3, Street-1 A-Block Askari-10,Street-5 Cavalry Ground of the cantonment area, Main Street Madni Colony Mohni Road, Sohni Street Gawalmandi of Data Gunjbakhsh Town, Street-4 Sector-B Askari-11,Street-3 B-Block State Life Society, 3-E-Block Engeenering Town of Nashtar Town area, Muhammadi Street Samanabad, some streets of Jahanzeb Block, Gulshan Block and Raza Block of Allama Iqbal Town, Street-32 Nawab Colony Misri Shah of Shalimar Town, B-Block Bismillah Housing Scheme, Street-10-G Wapda Officers Colony of Wahga Town have been sealed under the smart lockdown.
Similarly, some areas of Gujrat city, Kharian and Jalalpur Jattan in Gujrat district have been locked down.
In Rawalpindi, some streets of Sadiqabad, Allama Iqbal Colony, Azizabad and Dhok Paracha have been sealed. All shopping malls, restaurants, private and government offices will remain closed during the lockdown in the areas.
All medical services, pharmacies, medical laboratories, medical stores, collection centres, hospitals and clinics would be exempted and could remain open round the clock.
Milk shops, chicken, meat and fish shops as well as bakeries can work from 7am to 7pm. Grocery stores, general stores, flour mills, fruit and vegetable shops, tandoors and patrol pumps can be opened from 9am to 7pm.
The danger of coronavirus has yet not ended so precautionary measures can protect people from the pandemic, said the P&SHD spokesperson.
Meanwhile, amid a worsening coronavirus situation in Pakistan, the Islamabad administration has made wearing of facemasks in public mandatory. Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) has been put in place for the implementation of the rule, Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad Hamza Shafqat said.
The district administration has warned that legal action will be taken against those found not wearing a mask, adding that the mask-wearing rule will remain in place for the next two months.
Additionally, five sectors of Islamabad have been declared coronavirus "hotspots" and will be sealed. Sectors G-6/2, Sector G-9/1, G-10/4 will be sealed today (Sunday) as will Sectors I-8/3 and I/8-4.
Separately, Rawalpindi imposed new restrictions, including on markets, which will now be required to shut down by 6:00pm, starting tomorrow (Monday).
Deputy Commissioner Anwarul Haq said that shopkeepers had been consulted before bringing a change in the allowed operating hours for businesses. He said no marketplace will be shut down today (Sunday).
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