Saturday September 18, 2021

Lockdown in 18 districts to be lifted tomorrow

Lockdown in 18 districts to be lifted tomorrow

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar Tuesday announced to lift lockdown in 18 out of 24 districts with high risk of delta variant of COVID-19 until September 30.

However, he said, lockdown would still continue in six districts - Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Sargodha, Gujrat and Bannu – till September 22. Addressing a press conference here after chairing a meeting of National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), the minister said the lockdowns that were imposed in the selected districts would now be lifted from September 16.

Due to very high risk of COVID in 24 districts, the government had put more restrictions from September 04 to 15 to avoid further spread of delta variant. He said in the six districts, some relaxation was being given as schools would open from September 16 with 50% attendance.

Similarly, the intercity transport would also start with 50% passenger capacity. The timing for outdoor restaurants has been extended from 10pm to 12am, however, indoor dining would be banned, the minister added. The outdoor gathering with maximum 400 people has been allowed, however, indoor gathering would still be banned in the six districts.

Asad Umar said pressure of COVID patients in the hospitals was still high as over 5,300 intensive care patients were admitted to hospitals who were either on oxygen or ventilator. He said during the last few weeks, demand of oxygen for medical purposes had increased by 100% due to rising number of patients but he was confident about sufficient supply of oxygen in the country.

The minister maintained that although the situation was comparatively better now, the danger had not subsided and stressed the need for accelerating vaccination process in the country. He warned that the areas with low percentage of vaccination would again be put under lockdown.

"We want to completely lift all lockdown as soon as possible so that the situation normalizes in the country," he added. He said the government was spending Rs200 billion on COVID vaccine and stressed that people should get vaccinated as soon as possible. The minister informed that after September 30, unvaccinated people would not be allowed to travel or to enter the shopping malls.

Similarly, he said unvaccinated people would also not be allowed to enter marriage halls, indoor dining, restaurants or other similar gatherings. In education institutions, all the staff who had not completely vaccinated would also not allowed to continue their work after September 30. "Our target is to completely vaccinate at least 40% of the eligible population across the country," he said, adding that Islamabad had already met the target as 52% people of the eligible population had received both doses of the vaccine.