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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said Sunday the third peak of coronavirus is far more intense and deadlier that the previous two peaks, urging the nation to exercise utmost precaution against the pandemic while ruling out the possibility of “complete shutdown of the country” due to its adverse economic fallout.

“We cannot afford to completely shut down the entire country —we cannot close businesses and factories— but what we can do is to exercise utmost caution to defeat this third peak,” he said in a brief televised address to the nation.

The PM urged the nation to follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the prevention of the pandemic and wear masks at the public places. “When I was wearing mask, I was safe. I did not follow the precautions during Senate elections and ended up being ill. By the grace of Allah, my wife and I have recovered but this disease is very dangerous —and wearing a mask is one of the best preventive measures against coronavirus worldwide,” he said.

“I know it’s been a year and people are not bothered anymore (about coronavirus) but we have to exercise utmost caution. Hospitals are full and there is shortage of Covid vaccine worldwide. We did not get the amount of vaccine that was committed to us. But prevention is something that is in our hands,” PM stated.

He said the third variant of Covid-19 came to Pakistan from the United Kingdom mainly from people who went to Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar.

In a related development, federal government Sunday decided to tighten restrictions to stem the alarming spread of coronavirus that has unleashed devastation in different parts of the country.

In this context, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) met under the chair of Federal Planning Minister Asad Umar and decided to ban all kinds of indoor and outdoor gatherings with immediate effect to contain the spread of Covid-19.

These gatherings include all social, cultural, political, sports and other events.

From April 5, there will be complete ban on marriage ceremonies, including indoor and outdoor, the NCOC decided.

“NCOC will provide updated hotspot maps to provinces for enforcement of expanded lockdowns” with effect from Monday (today), said an official statement.

Various options for reduction of inter provincial transport were considered during the meeting and it was decided that final decision will be taken based on the input from provinces, it added.

In addition, 57 more deaths were reported due to coronavirus across the country during 24 hours till Sunday afternoon.

According to NCOC data, 4,767 new positive cases have been reported in the country after conducting tests of 45,656 people during the same period.

The death toll due to Covid-19 pandemic has now reached 14,215 while 595,929 patients stand recovered from the disease.

Islamabad Capital Territory Administration (ICTA) said Covid-19 positivity rate in Islamabad has touched 12 percent and all kinds of ceremonies and gatherings have been banned. The areas in Islamabad where lockdown would be imposed include Defence Housing Authority (DHA) 2, Sawan Garden, PWD Colony and Bharakahu including Banigala. The ICTA said schools would not be allowed to take on-campus examinations.

The violators of ban against gatherings would be proceeded against, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Syed Mustafa Tanvir said in a press conference.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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