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CASES 288,047 747
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The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) Wednesday proposed multiple recommendations to ease lockdown restrictions in the country, which were imposed to curb spread of the coronavirus.
The recommendations were made during a committee meeting chaired by Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Asad Umar.
The recommendations include opening of inter-provincial transportation with proper implementation of the SOPs, opening phase-II of the construction sector, reopening of retail outlets, and operationalization of selective outpatient departments in Islamabad. The participants of meeting proposed to enhance shops' timings from 9am to 5pm and then 8pm to 10pm.
They also decided to bring no change in the SOPs for the religious congregations in the second half of the holy month of Ramazan.
No changes were made in the SOPs for religious festivities in the second half of the holy month of Ramazan; the measures will remain the same as previously agreed between the government and the ulema.
The NCOC also approved easing lockdown restrictions after May 9.
The chief ministers of the four provinces and representatives of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan attended the meeting.
The NCOC has also proposed the resumption of transportation services across the country.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has summoned a National Coordination Committee (NCC) meeting on Thursday (today) to mull over the NCOC's proposals.
Meanwhile, Punjab, Balochistan, and Sindh, in an inter-provincial education ministers conference, have opposed reopening educational institutes after June 1.
In the meeting, chaired by Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood, the provinces stressed on keeping the educational institutes closed.
The NCC will make a final decision in this regard as a consensus could not be reached in the meeting.
Umar briefed the ministers about the coronavirus situation in the country and informed the cabinet members that Pakistan's situation was far better than many developed countries as far as COVID-19 infections and deaths were concerned.
The NCOC has firmed up multiple recommendations to ease the lockdown restrictions imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus. The measures include the opening of inter-provincial transportation in line with laid down standard operating procedures (SOPs), and operationalisation of selective OPDs in the federal capital.
The suggestions included measures to strike a balance between efforts to curb coronavirus and revive economic activities.
These will remain in effect till May 31, if approved in today's meeting.
The NCOC meeting also rejected the proposal of Pakistan Railways to partially resume train service from May 10. According to details, chief ministers of all four provinces have rejected the recommendation of resuming the train operation partially. The proposal was put forward by Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed in the NCOC meeting. Sources said the provinces also rejected the proposals of resuming public transport and intercity bus service across the country. It was agreed in the meeting that shopping malls will remain closed across the country, while shops will remain open from 8 am to 5 pm.
Nationwide coronavirus cases have surged to 23,489 while death toll from Covid19 has reached 535 people of which over 6,112 have recovered, the NCOC said.
According to the NCOC, the province-wise break up of the total number of cases as follows: Punjab 8,640 cases, followed by Sindh 8,640 cases, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 3,712 cases, Balochistan 1,495 cases, the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) 485 cases, Gilgit-Baltistan 388 cases, and the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) 76 cases.
So far, the coronavirus has claimed 544 lives in Pakistan of which 203 in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 157 in Sindh, 156 in Punjab, 21 in Balochistan, three in Gilgit-Baltistan, and four in the ICT.
Officials have recorded more than 3.76 million cases and more than 259,605 deaths worldwide since the virus emerged in China in December 2019.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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