ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) chief Asad Umar Friday said there are clear early signs of the fourth Covid-19 wave starting in Pakistan, due to poor compliance with standard operating procedures (SOPs) and the spread of ‘delta’ variant.
Umar, who is also federal minister for planning and development, took to Twitter and said he already had warned two weeks ago that the government’s artificial intelligence models are showing possible emergence of the fourth wave in July.
He said now there are ‘clear early signs of 4th wave starting’ in the country due to “poor SOP compliance, coupled with the spread of variants of concern, Indian variant also known as delta variant, in particular, are the main cause.”
The NCOC warned of a ban on tourist spots, if cases continue to rise.
Workers of the following sectors must get vaccinated by July 31: (i) Private, corporate sector employees. (ii) Small, medium and large industry employees. (iii) Workers associated with the agriculture and media sectors, lawyers, factory workers, and those who work in markets, including cart vendors. (iv) All workers associated with the transport and hotel industry. (v) All gymnasium workers. (vi) Employees of mosques, including imams. (vii) Employees of workshops and wedding halls. (viii) Students on the other hand, aged 18 and above, are required to get vaccinated by August 31.
Moreover, the NOCOC also announced vaccination certificate policy according to which (i) No one will be allowed to travel without a vaccination certificate after August 1.
“Field reports are showing a complete disregard of the condition of vaccination for those attending indoor weddings and going to indoor restaurants and gyms. If the owners of these facilities do not show responsibility and ensure compliance, there will be no choice but to shut them down,” he tweeted.
The warning from the chief of the NCOC came after the country reported a positivity rate of over three percent for third consecutive day.
According to the NCOC, the country in the past 24 hours recorded 1,737 new coronavirus cases after 47,528 tests were conducted.
The country last reported 830 daily cases on July 6th. The number of active cases in the country has also gone up to 35,573. A steady increase has also been seen in the positivity rate, with Friday morning's rate recorded at 3.65 percent.
Another 25 people died from coronavirus in Pakistan, data by the NCOC showed.
This pushed the nation's death tally to 22,520.
The total number of cases from the virus since the pandemic started has reached 969,476 while 911,383 people have so far recovered from the virus.
Meanwhile, the NCOC Friday also said that in view of the ‘extremely dangerous’ delta variant of coronavirus, vaccinations must be ramped up, and set July 31 as the deadline for workers to get inoculated.
According to a statement by the forum, delta variant cases have emerged in Pakistan and there is a possibility that these would lead to a fourth coronavirus wave.
To tackle with the variant as well as other variants that have emerged in Pakistan, the NCOC has chalked out a plan of action.
"Failure to take precautionary measures against the delta variant can lead to dangerous consequences," said the statement.
The NCOC observed that due to the delta variant, hundreds of thousands of people in India died, coupled with a shortage of oxygen, countless people suffered.
The forum decided that enforcement of safety precautions would be ramped up, especially during the July 9-18 period.
Various proposals are under consideration to curb unnecessary movement on Eid, the statement said, adding that the decision to implement the proposals will be made keeping in view the spread of the virus.
(ii) Visitors to tourist spots aged 30 and above will not be allowed without a vaccination certificate. And, (iii) hotel bookings are prohibited without vaccination certificates.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021