ISLAMABAD             -        As the government eased lockdown, people started gambling with their lives, prompting the authorities to again announce strict guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The number of COVID-19-related cases continues to soar in the federal capital like other parts of the country and the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration has issued new guidelines to open business in the city. The administration has made amendments in its notifications issued earlier in line with the decisions taken by the National Coordination Committee in its meeting held on June 1.

Islamabad had reported 402 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, its biggest daily jump in infections since the outbreak of the disease, according to the Islamabad District Health Office.

A notification issued by District Magistrate Islamabad on Friday said that all educational institutions and training institutions, deenimadaris, shrines, marriage halls, business centres, expo halls, restaurants, cafes (except take away and home delivery), theme/amusement parks, play areas, and arcaded, beauty parlours and spas, cinemas, theatres, and public processions shall remain closed/banned. There shall be a complete ban on the gathering of all kindsat any place, public or private. All businesses, factories, facilities, premises, retail shops, shopping malls and plazas except the aforementioned negative list, have been allowed to operate subject to adoption of the SOPs/guidelines from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, and there shall be complete lockdown on Saturdays and Sundays.

However, all medical services and pharmaceutical/medical stores, tyre puncture shops, fruit and vegetable shops, tandoors, attachakkis, postal/courier services, driver hotels, petrol pumps, oil depots, LPG outlets and filling plants, agriculture machinery workshops, spare parts shops, printing presses, call centres (with 50 per cent staff and no public dealing), and takeaway/home delivery from restaurants can operate 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, said the notification.

Inter-city and inter-district public transport can also operate 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Grocery stores and karyana stores have been allowed to open from 9am to 6pm seven days a week while churches have been allowed to open from 7am to 5pm seven days a week.       The government had lifted two-month long lockdown four weeks back when millions of people were facing starvation as economic activity dwindled and Eid was coming.

Over 20,000 cases of the virus were identified in the three weeks before the lockdown was lifted, and more than double that figure were identified in the three weeks since, according to the data. Pakistan has officially identified over 89,249 cases of Covid-19, with 1,838 confirmed deaths so far. The numbers are concerning since they do suggest there may still be widespread transmission in certain parts of the country.

Like other parts of the country, people in Islamabad also donot bother to wear mask and gloves or using hand sanitiser to protect themselves from the virus. According to the NCOC, 4896 new coronavirus cases were identified in the country over the last 24 hours Friday, taking the tally to 89249. These include 33144 in Punjab, 33536 in Sindh, 11890 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 5582 in Balochistan, 3946 in Islamabad, 852 in Gilgit-Baltistan and 299 in Azad Kashmir.  The death toll from the virus stands at 1838 with 68 deaths reported over the last 24 hours.