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ISLAMABAD: The National Command Operation Centre (NCOC) chief and Federal Minister Asad Umar on Saturday said the government would have no option but to toughen restrictions if the coronavirus situation did not improve.

During a media briefing after NCOC meeting to review the alarming rise in coronavirus cases in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad Capital Territory, the federal minister said restrictions were toughen two weeks ago due to a worse coronavirus situation.

He said the pandemic is spreading rapidly not just in Pakistan, but across the globe, especially in neighbouring countries.

The federal minister said the number of critical patients had increased drastically in the last 12 days.

"If the trend continues, the situation may slip out of hand," he added.

Umar said the NCOC is trying its level best not to let the situation affect the employment of people.

He also said the UK variant of the coronavirus is "much more dangerous than the original Covid-19 virus that emerged from Wuhan."

A press statement issued by the NCOC said the Punjab and KP chief ministers and ICT commissioner were invited to the session via video links.

Provincial chief secretaries, health secretaries, and home secretaries also joined the session.

The agenda included a discussion on the rising trend of COVID-19, implementation status of high impact interventions and state of critical medical facilities, including oxygenated beds, vents and other facilities.

A special NCOC morning session was held a day earlier, in which provincial administrations were asked to ensure strict implementation of NPIs (non-pharmaceutical interventions) and violators must be dealt with strictly.

According the NCOC press statement, major violations are being reported from the transport sector, wedding halls, restaurants, commercial activities and public gatherings.

A follow-up session with Provincial Chief secretaries will be held tomorrow for consideration of additional measures for disease control.

Concern was shown on slower rate of vaccination.

Senior citizens above 70 years of age are requested to visit any nearby vaccination center along with their CNICs to get on-spot vaccination.

Citizens from 60-70 years of age are being vaccinated by scheduling through National Immunisation Management System (NIMS). A day earlier, the NCOC head announced that people aged 50 and above can sign up to get vaccinated for coronavirus starting next week. "Registration of those who are 50 plus for COVID vaccination will be opened on March 30th," announced Umar through a tweet.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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