- NCOC head and federal minister says enforcement of SOPs is key to control spread of coronavirus
- Umar also gives deadline of August 31 to all those working in the transport sector, public sector entities, and students above 18 years of age to get vaccinated
Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has said that a complete lockdown is not the solution even as Sindh, especially provincial capital Karachi, recorded a surge in coronavirus cases, reported Aaj News on Thursday.
In a presser alongside Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, the planning minister, who is also the head of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), said that they have learned from last year that coronavirus restrictions, broader lockdowns and stronger enforcement of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) had a positive effect in controlling the Covid-19 situation in Pakistan.
Umar further said that Pakistan's efforts for dealing with the pandemic were also recognised around the world.
He continued that according to the data by the NCOC, Islamabad has the highest enforcement of health guidelines at 56.4%, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (46%), Punjab (38%), while the lowest enforcement is in Balochistan at 33%.
While talking about the devastating situation in Sindh, especially in Karachi, the minister said that the implementation of coronavirus SOPs was also 33%. He said that the Sindh government is taking proactive measures, adding that the federal government will assist Sindh in every possible way.
"If the provincial government requires Rangers and armed forces, the government will deploy them."
"Once the coronavirus SOPs are implemented, Karachi will see a decrease in its Covid-19 cases," Umar said. However, the NCOC head said that the implementation of SOPs was not the only solution. Stressing on vaccination, he urged the citizens to get themselves inoculated as soon as possible.
He said during the last 24 hours, the highest number of doses were administered across Pakistan, with Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan and KPK all setting a record of administering the highest number of doses in a single day.
The NCOC head added that those who have not been inoculated will not be allowed to undertake domestic air travel from August.
Umar also gave August 31 as a deadline to all those in the transport sector, students above 18 years of age, law enforcement agencies, employees of public sector entities, marriage halls, hotels and restaurants to get vaccinated, adding that these are sectors dealing with the public the most.
The government has taken these steps to protect the livelihoods of the people associated with these sectors, the minister said. Umar warned that anyone found not vaccinated will not be permitted to work after August 31.
Meanwhile, Sindh continued to be the worst-hit province as it reported the highest number of deaths as well as Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours. Sindh has so far reported 374,434 cases and 5,903 deaths.
Karachi, which has been reporting the most number of cases, is currently struggling with a health system overwhelmed by patients. Doctors and health experts earlier recommended a 15-day complete lockdown in Karachi.
Secretary-General of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Dr Qaiser Sajjad said they had suggested a complete lockdown in Karachi for 15 days to avoid an unexpected spike in coronavirus cases.
"There is only one solution to this problem and it is to impose a complete lockdown for 15 days," he said, adding that pressure was mounting on hospitals and it could lead to a dangerous situation.
CM Shah has also convened the Covid Task Force meeting on Friday in order to mull over the curbs on movement and the final decision to impose a complete lockdown would be taken after consultation with traders and other stakeholders in Karachi.