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ISLAMABAD: Following the detection of 541 coronavirus cases, the highest in three months with a positivity ratio of 3.5 percent in the past 24 hours nationwide, the government has decided to fully activate the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) to effectively deal with the spread of the pandemic.

Speaking at a press conference, Federal Minister for National Health Services and Regulations Abdul Qadir Patel on Wednesday urged the people to follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) including wearing masks in public places and observing social distancing.

The minister was flanked by Executive Director National Institute of Health (NIH) Major General Aamer Ikram.

The minister said the positivity ratio of coronavirus had reached 3.5 percent in some cities but there was no need to be afraid as the government was closely monitoring the situation and taking measures to prevent the spread.

The minister said that in some parts of the country such as Peshawar, Karachi, and Mardan, Covid-19 cases were increasing, adding the government had decided to increase the Covid-19 tests across the country.

“However, we have to be careful as minor increase in positivity ratio can become a big tragedy,” he said, adding the intensity of the Covid had decreased but the menace had not yet been eliminated completely.

Spike in cases: NCOC reissues Covid SOPs

The chances of Covid spread were high as religious gatherings would galore in the country during the next few months including starting of cattle markets during Eid-ul-Azha, political gatherings, and gatherings of Muharramul Haram.

Responding to a question regarding corruption in corona funds by the officials of the former government led by Imran Khan, the minister said his ministry was trying to find solid proof and would not indulge in verbal attacks.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was being requested to make sure adherence to the SOPs during election campaigns, he added. He urged the media to help the government in launching awareness campaign for wearing face masks, maintaining social distance, and using sanitizers to avoid the spread of Covid-19.

The government has already made wearing of mask in public transport, aeroplanes, and railways mandatory.

The government has directed all chief secretaries to initiate Covid testing of the people to ascertain the actual situation regarding the deadly virus’s spread. He expressed satisfaction that 85 percent plus population was already vaccinated. While over one million booster shots were being administered to people in the country on a daily basis.

Arrangements have been finalised to vaccinate children aged five to 12 years in the next one to two months. As many as 6.8 million Pfizer dozes are being arranged for administering to children upto 12 years.

Talking about polio vaccination drive across the country, the minister said that poliovirus elements had been detected in all the 86 districts of Pakistan. He said the government was making all-out efforts to provide foolproof security to polio vaccination teams.

The NIH chief speaking on the occasion said the NCOC was monitoring the situation very closely on a daily basis.

According to the NIH data, Pakistan on Wednesday reported 541 new Covid-19 infections by performing 15,462 tests with a positivity ratio of 3.5 percent. The detection of new Covid-19 cases has pushed the country’s total caseload to 1,535,144 since the pandemic outbreak. The country also reported one coronavirus death in the past 24 hours taking the nationwide death tally to 30,393.

Meanwhile, the number of patients being treated in critical care units (CCUs) also surged to 100, while one person infected with Covid-19 died in the last 24 hours. The number of active cases also crossed 5,269 mark.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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