Reactivating The NCOC

In March of this year, the then-Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Health Services Dr Faisal Sultan announced that the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), the principal body governing the policies and implementation of the national Covid-19 effort, would be closing by the end of the month. It had been hoped that we had seen the last of the pandemic, and concurrently the need for the NCOC.
Unfortunately, that does not appear to be a hope fulfilled. The current federal government on Wednesday decided to fully activate the NCOC in the light of rising coronavirus cases across the country. Due to the sudden rise in cases, the NCOC is now again working on drafting Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and aiding the government in increasing testing and to begin vaccinating children aged 5 to 12 in the next month or two. The campaign for booster shots will also be initiated again.
Reactivating the NCOC was a necessary step, considering the country reported 541 new infections overnight, pushing Pakistan’s positivity ratio above 3 percent again. The closing of the NCOC put all burden of ensuing coronavirus cases on the National Institute of Health (NIH). It is advisable for the government, as it heads on with another campaign to counter the virus, to consider institutionalising the NCOC through law, as it has shown itself capable of handling a pandemic. The NIH had already shown itself to be incapable to deal with the unpredictable coronavirus pandemic; furthermore, it has also faced several difficulties with countering polio. It took us significant resources and work to establish the NCOC to mitigate the harms of the pandemic—it may be advisable to use such goodwill and data collected to assist in working on all of Pakistan’s pandemic/endemic-related issues.

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