Sunday May 29, 2022

No immediate need to restore NCOC, PM told

May 15, 2022

karachi: There is no immediate need for restoring the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) as all its functions are amicably being performed by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) at the National Institute of Health (NIH) Islamabad, the ministry of national health services has told Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

The PM had ordered the restoration of the NCOC earlier this week after several cases of Omicron sub-variant BA.2.12.1 were reported in the country.

“We have conveyed to the Prime Minister’s office that all the functions of the defunct NCOC have been transitioned to the Centre for Disease Control at the NIH Islamabad. Officials are daily meeting at the CDC and keeping a close eye on the COVID-19 situation so there is no need to restore the NCOC at the moment”, an official of the federal health ministry told The News on Saturday.

The NCOC was established in March 2020 by the former government to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with an objective to provide the overall direction to the provincial authorities on how to contain the outbreak. The centre’s data-driven approach kept the nation updated about on the daily cases, deaths, recoveries, and number of vaccinations during the pandemic.

The NCOC ceased to function last month after the COVID-19 cases subsided considerably, and all its functions and expertise were handed over to the CDC that was established and inaugurated in July 2021 by former special assistant to the prime minister (SAPM) on health Dr Faisal Sultan.

“We have apprised the PM office that functions of the NCOC are still intact but transition of these functions to the CDC has been completed”, the official said and added that the PM office has been informed that if required, the NCOC could be revived on a short notice.

Meanwhile, Dr Sultan said there was a need for continued vigilance and surveillance of COVID-19 cases in the country. The former SAPM, however, added that this could easily be done by officials at the CDC.

“The NCOC was an excellent but a makeshift arrangement. But this arrangement could not be continued indefinitely. The better option was to shift the expertise and functions of the NCOC to a permanent institution, which could perform the same responsibility in the future too,” Dr Sultan remarked.

When asked why the CDC did not enjoy the same reputation as the NCOC, he opined that new entities had to earn respect and the newly-established CDC should be given some time for that.