ISLAMABAD - The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Wednesday called for banning large public gatherings and enhancing restrictions in high risk areas due to COVID-19 resurge.

Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar chaired the meeting in Islamabad and reviewed the epidemic curve data and disease prevalence in the country. The centre suggested banning all public gatherings of more than 500 people including political, cultural, religious, entertainment and civil society gatherings. The suggestions came after the NCOC took into account the rising positivity ratio in the country.

The NCOC also called for banning large public gatherings and enhancing restrictions in high-risk areas due to Covid-19 resurgence. The NCOC suggestions have been sent to all the stake-holders for input and subsequently recommended to the National Coordination Committee (NCC) for approval by the national leadership across Pakistan.

According to the officials, the forum was told that the disease had increased three fold since the NCOC recommended ban on large public gatherings and outdoor activities on October 12 and November 3 to the National Coordination Committee (NCC) for its final decision. However, consensus by all stakeholders is awaited, the meeting was told.

Only outdoor dining till 10 pm allowed at restaurants

The forum was briefed that there is an increasing positivity ratio in the educational institutions and there is a need to check this trend. The forum decided that on 16 November, the Federal Minister for Education would chair a special meeting at NCOC with provincial education ministers on board to assess and review the positivity prevailing in the educational institutions. After consultative discussions the recommendations would be shared with the provinces for consequent decision and enforcement, the meeting decided.

The forum taking into account the rising positivity ratio, suggested an early and extended winter vacations to reduce impact of disease spread and ensure safety and health of students.

The NCOC also issued guidelines on marriages to all stakeholders which suggested that only outdoor marriages with an upper limit of 500 people are allowed from November 20th. The NCOC also suggested for the NCC meeting to increase restrictions on high-risk sectors and particularly large public gatherings. It recommended urgent and emergency measures to NCC for final approval after consensus by all the stake-holders. The NCOC appreciated the SOPs’ compliance in mosques so far since the last many months, however, noted decline in compliance at present and appealed to all the stake-holders to further follow the same rather enhance amid possible 2nd wave of pandemic. The NCOC, suggesting the measures to all stake-holders for input subsequently recommended the NCC for approval by the national leadership across Pakistan.

 

The measures include that all public gatherings of more than 500 people be banned including political, cultural, religious, entertainment and civil society gatherings. Early and extended winter vacations after input by federal /provincial education ministers. Outdoor dining and take away will be allowed till 10 pm. Cinemas, theatres, shrines have been closed with immediate effect while early closing of markets with safe days has been suggested.

 

Asad Umar in a tweet on Wednesday said, “NCOC has once again recommended banning all large public gatherings. Rapid increase in positivity requires urgent steps to save lives & livelihoods. Since mid October, when NCC first considered the NCOC recommendation to ban large public gatherings daily cases have nearly tripled.” It is to mention here that Pakistan reported 1708 fresh Covid-19 cases and 21 more deaths on Wednesday.