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Don’t go to hotels, weddings, PM asks people

Top Story

March 29, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Wearing a mask, Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday urged people to strictly follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) concerning COVID-19, as the third wave of the virus would be more dangerous, while hospitals were already being filled with infected patients.

In a televised message to the nation, Imran Khan, who is in self-isolation at home in Banigala after contracting coronavirus, pointed out that it was a global experience that when mask was worn, then the chance of anyone contracting the virus was slim. He said Pakistan could not afford shutting businesses and factories or imposing complete lockdown.

The prime minister emphasised that strict adherence to the SOPs was imperative for the country could not be shut down or, as “we did not have enough resources to lock down people and then feed them and look after them”.

Imran Khan continued that even the richest countries did not have that much resources but what Pakistanis could do was to wear mask and ask others also to do so and follow the related SOPs. “I have my fear that the third wave would be of even more intensity than the first two and none knows, where it lands us,” he maintained. He added that this had come from England.

Already, he noted, hospitals were being filled with virus-infected people. He added that especially, because of the people who came from there and landed in Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar, this was spreading fast and cases were increasing and hospitals being packed with patients and people were being shifted to oxygen and ventilators.

The prime minister recalled that when the first peak of the virus came to Pakistan, the world gave example of Pakistan. “The way we handled it and were the best to come out of it,” he said, adding, “I know, one year has passed and people don’t care about it but God forbid, if it continues spreading at the rate it is already, then our hospitals will be filled. And, the world is now short of the vaccine, as the countries, which had promised to provide the vaccine, are facing increase in cases and running short of it for their own people.”

Therefore, he emphasised that it would be better to exercise caution and care and desist from going to weddings and restaurants and other such places, where people would gather for at such places, it spread fast and it was called super spreader.

The prime minister said that he had undergone the ailment but Allah Almighty had been so kind to him and his spouse. “But let me say this that is such a disease that if the virus reaches your chest, then it becomes very dangerous. Therefore, everyone must be very careful about it,” he said.

At the start of the message, the prime minister noted that he had been very careful for the whole year and did not go to any wedding or a restaurant and observed social distancing and wore mask, and was among those Pakistanis who remained safe from the virus.

But he added that on the occasion of Senate elections, he was not as much careful, as he should have been and as a result, he contracted the virus. “Today, I call on all to wear mask and follow SOPs,” he said.

Meanwhile, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) at a special session chaired by Asad Umar decided to impose complete ban on indoor and outdoor wedding ceremonies and other gatherings from April 05 onwards. However, the meeting which was also attended by representatives from federating units via video link, decided that provinces will be at liberty to implement restrictions in early time frame as per the situation on ground.

The administration of the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) has decided to ban all kinds of indoor and outdoor activities, including weddings, gatherings, festivals, cultural, social and religious events with effect from April 01. Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Hamza Shafqat issued a notification in this regard on Sunday.

Through another notification, the Islamabad administration also banned any kind of gathering in H-8 and H-11 graveyards on day and night of Shab-e-Baraat. However, burials at these two graveyards will be allowed as COVID-19 SOPs. The NCOC will provide updated hotspot maps to provinces for enforcement of expanded lockdowns with effect from March 29.

All kind of gatherings (indoor/outdoor) will be banned. This will include all social, cultural, political, sports and other events. Various options for reduction of inter-provincial transport were considered. Final decision will be taken based on the input from provinces and analysis of data regarding number of inter provincial commuters via air, rail and road. Provinces will ensure that vaccination targets given by NCOC are timely met.

Meanwhile, the NCOC reported 57 deaths due to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, while another 4,767 people were tested positive during this period with 45,656 tests conducted on March 28, showing a positivity rate of over 10 percent. The death toll in three waves of coronavirus has reached 14,215 with 3,043 affected persons on ventilators while positive cases were on the rise.

In an alarming development, the corona positivity ratio of COVID-19 in Lahore has reached 23 percent. The official sources in bifurcated branches of Punjab’s Health Department informed that the health authorities were considering to impose a complete lockdown in Lahore as spread of coronavirus is fast exceeding the overall positivity ratio of 10.44 percent in the country.

“The presence of SARS-CoV-2 has reached 23 percent positivity rate in Lahore,” said Nabeel Awan, Secretary Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education Department (SHC&MED), Punjab. The confirmed cases of coronavirus in Lahore have reached 112,379 with 2,549 mortalities due to COVID-19 so far.

Meanwhile, the positivity ratio among healthcare workers in Punjab has also reached 12 percent with a total of 2,778 doctors, nurses, paramedics and ancillary staff confirmed with coronavirus in hospitals in the province.

During the last 24 hours most of the deaths had occurred in the Punjab followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Out of the total 57 deaths occurred during last 24 hours, 20 of the deceased had died on ventilators during their treatment. The maximum ventilators were occupied in four major areas including Multan (70 percent), Islamabad Capital Territory (62 percent), Gujranwala (60 percent) and Lahore (55 percent).

The maximum Oxygen beds was also occupied in four major areas of Gujrat (98 percent), Gujranwala (85 percent), Peshawar (78 percent) and ICT (56 percent). Around 388 ventilators were occupied elsewhere in the country, while no COVID-affected person was on ventilator in AJK, Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Balochistan. Some 45,656 tests were conducted across the country on Saturday, including 9,424 in Sindh, 19,377 in Punjab, 8,160 in KP, 6,460 in ICT, 1,054 in Balochistan, 350 in GB, and 831 in AJK.

Since the pandemic outbreak, a total of 654,591 cases were detected that also included the perished, recovered and under treatment COVID-19 patients so far, including AJK 12,367, Balochistan 19,497, GB 4,999, ICT 55,594, KP 84,609, Punjab 212,918 and Sindh 264,607. About 14,215 deaths were recorded in country since the eruption of the contagion. Around 4,491 perished in Sindh where four deaths occurred in hospital during past 24 hours, 6,229 died in Punjab with 39 deaths in past 24 hours, 2,283 died in KP where nine of them died in hospital on Saturday, 559 in ICT among two deaths in hospital during past 24 hours, 206 in Balochistan including one death in hospital during past 24 hours, 103 in GB and 344 in AJK including two of them in hospital on Saturday.