Centre asks provinces to take strict measures to tackle Omicron

ISLAMABAD – The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) imposed a complete ban on serving snacks and meals in flights and public transport from January 17, according to a press release issued by the forum.

The NCOC has also summoned a meeting of the provincial education and health ministers on January 17 to  suggest a new set of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) focusing on the education sector, public gatherings, marriage ceremonies, indoor/outdoor dining and transport sector, according to the NCOC. 

The NCOC decided to extensively engage with provinces, especially with the Sindh government for necessary measures to tackle the rising coronavirus disease. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) was asked to ensure in-flight mask wearing and also implement SOPs at all the airports.  The forum asked the federating units to take strict measures against violators of SOPs, especially mask-wearing and to ensure enforcement of obligatory vaccination regime.  

Meanwhile, Pakistan reported the highest number of Covid-19 cases — 4,286 since August 25, 2021, in the last 24 hours, the NCOC data showed Saturday morning, as compared to 3,567 a day earlier. The positivity ratio also shot up to 8.16 percent across the country, the highest since August 11, when 52,522 tests were conducted across the country, according to the NCOC data. The overall cases have reached 1.32 million after the detection of new infections, while the death toll now stands at 29,003 as four deaths were reported from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours. The city-wise positivity breakdown shows that Karachi recorded a positivity rate of 35.30 percent, Muzaffarabad 11.90 percent, Rawalpindi 9.94 percent, Lahore 8.5 percent, and Islamabad 6.95 percent.

 

Meanwhile, the Sindh government on Saturday decided that schools across the province will remain open even as the Omicron-driven fifth wave of Covid-19 spreads at an alarming rate. 

The decision to continue educational activities was taken in a meeting of the Provincial Task Force on Covid-19 presided over by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah. The meeting’s participants also decided that all public and private hospitals will be surveyed in order to determine their current capacities and to ascertain what more is needed. It was also decided to strictly implement Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs). Furthermore, wearing masks at public places, markets and wedding halls was declared mandatory. 

 

The government officials who do not wear masks would be fined, which, it was suggested, could be equal to their one day’s salary. Additionally, it was instructed that food at wedding events would be served in boxes. 

Meanwhile, only vaccinated people would be allowed to enter markets, with the management required to check the record of vaccination cards. It was also decided to further speed up the pace of vaccination efforts across the province. 

“The increase in Covid cases is the result of not taking precautionary measures. If the people cooperate, then this ongoing Covid wave will also be brought under control,” the chief minister said. 

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