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ISLAMABAD: As the country recorded a 8.71 percent Covid-19 positivity rate with 4,340 new coronavirus cases Monday, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) did not make a decision after a meeting with the provincial stakeholders whether schools across the country will be closed or not, saying before taking any such decision it will review the Covid-19 positivity data of various institutions.

The meeting was chaired by the NCOC Chairman Asad Umar, and also attended by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Dr Faisal Sultan, besides provincial health and education ministers also joined the meeting virtually.

Following the meeting, the NCOC in a statement said, “Decision about education institutions will be taken on data of positive cases of various institutions for which massive testing in education institutions is being carried out.”

It further said that a “massive testing” drive was being carried out in educational institutions to gather data. Deliberating on the situation, the ministers, who participated in the meeting virtually, informed the forum about the steps being taken for implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) and Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) in the wake of the spike in the coronavirus cases.

“Keeping in view the new disease prevalence, fresh set of NPIs was presented and discussed with the provinces and a new set of NPIs will be implemented by provinces in the next 48 hours after consultative process with all the stakeholders,” the NCOC said.

After the Omicron variant of Covid-19, Pakistan subsequently placed a complete ban on November 27 on travel from six South African countries including South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, as well as on Hong Kong.

This travel ban was later extended to nine more countries including Croatia, Hungary, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Ireland, Slovenia, Vietnam, Poland, and Zimbabwe.

Pakistan has seen a steep rise in infections with the number of active cases crossing 35,000 in the last 24 hours. The effect of the fifth wave is especially intense in the big cities as Karachi remains the worst coronavirus-hit city where the positivity rate has touched to 40 percent on January 16 and remained at 30.83 percent on Monday, followed by Lahore with 13.05 percent, the ICT with 10.75 percent, Hyderabad with 10.68 percent, Rawalpindi with 8.84 percent, and Peshawar with 7.49 percent.

During the fourth Covid-19 wave, the NCOC had closed educational institutes in areas with a high positivity rate of Covid-19 from September 3 to September 12, 2021 in 15 districts of Punjab, eight districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and in Islamabad Capital Territory.

In the past 24 hours, the country reported 4,340 new coronavirus cases, up from 4,027 a day earlier, raising the tally to 1,328,487 and the national positivity rate to 8.71 percent. Sindh and Punjab led the cases with 2,670, and 1,131 infections, respectively. The country also reported 302 Covid-19 recoveries taking the nationwide recoveries to 1,263,486 since the pandemic outbreak.

Seven more deaths were reported elsewhere in the country taking the national death tally to 29,019 since the pandemic outbreak.

In terms of coronavirus infections, Sindh province remained the most hit region in the country where total Covid-19 infections have crossed half million mark and reached to 502,500, followed by the Punjab with 453,392 infections, the KPK with 182,311 infections, ICT with 111,376, Azad Jammu and Kashmir with 34,758 infections, Balochistan with 33,705 infections, and Gilgit Baltistan (GB) with 10,445 infections.

In terms of Covid-19 deaths, Punjab with 13,090 deaths is on top, followed by Sindh with 7,697 deaths, KPK with 5,960 deaths, ICT with 969 deaths, AJK with 749 deaths, Balochistan with 367 deaths, and GB with 186 deaths.

While the fifth wave of Covid-19 is rapidly moving towards its peak, the federal capital on Sunday reported 366 cases with the positivity rate increasing to seven per cent. On the other hand, the city’s weekly positivity, which is considered more authentic, also went up threefold from 1.85pc to 5.38pc.

Meanwhile, two educational institutions have been closed after Covid-19 cases there. Covid-19 data released by the District Health Officer (DHO), Islamabad, Dr Zaeem Zia, three cases each were detected at Islamabad Model College for Girls F-6/2 and Islamabad Model College for Girls G-6/1-4. The institutions will remain closed for 14 days for disinfection and contact tracing.

Moreover, one person died of the Covid-19 in the district of Rawalpindi, while 124 people tested positive with the positivity recorded at 6.22pc.

According to Dr Zia, 5,225 samples were collected on Saturday, out of which, 366 were found positive on Sunday. “We are extremely engaged with high number of cases to trace. We advise everyone to quarantine, if you have symptoms. Get vaccinated and get boosted,” he said.

Moreover, he said, on the directions of the NCOC, F-9 Park mass vaccination centre is being reopened on Monday (today), adding the citizens should get themselves vaccinated at the earliest.

“Our teams have shown great commitment to ensure safety of the residents of Islamabad and otherwise. Islamabad has highest number of fully and partially vaccinated population,” he said.

According to documents shared by the DHO, the ICT reported 1,680 Covid-19 cases with 5.38pc positivity rate compared to 563 cases with 1.85pc positivity a week earlier. Moreover, the positivity rate was 2.13pc on January 7 but it rapidly increased and in less than 10 days reached 7pc on January 16.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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