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PM urges for Covid SOPs compliance; Asad rules out complete lockdown

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday urged the masses to strictly observe the government’s mandated Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) on the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha to keep the virus at bay.

PM Imran warned the nation about the dangers of the Delta variant, which first emerged in India, and said that India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Indonesia are currently suffering because of it.

“Given the current situation in countries like Afghanistan, where there is an acute shortage of oxygen, I would like to say a few things to the nation,” the PM said.

He said that so far, Allah has been very merciful towards Pakistan and even
foreign publications like The Economist has listed Pakistan as one of the top three nations that were able to control the pandemic in an efficient way.

He lauded the government, particularly the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) for carrying out research and taking timely decisions to contain the virus from spreading.

He said that Pakistan was the only Muslim country that kept mosques open for
two consecutive Ramadans – thanks to the efforts, monitoring, and preemptive
measures of the NCOC as well as the cooperative attitude of the nation.

“It was also because of the cooperation of the Pakistani nation that the
government could save the country from getting into a catastrophic situation
[like other countries],” the premier said.

The premier said that at present, however, the coronavirus cases in the
country are suddenly rising again after plummeting because of the arrival of
the Delta variant in the country.

He explained that masks should be worn at all times whenever someone is in a confined space with other people, including wedding functions, restaurants, and rooms, because the chances of the virus spreading within indoor environments are extremely high.

“If someone is out in the open, for example in a park, they can take their masks off, but when they are inside a bus or a car with other people, for instance, they must wear a mask,” the premier explained while holding a mask in his hands.

“It’s a very easy job to wear a mask, and this simple step can save the country and our economy from disaster,” he continued.


Meanwhile, fearing the start of the fourth wave of coronavirus pandemic in current month, head of NCOC Asad Umar has said that the government would not impose complete lockdown during this wave.

Addressing the oath taking ceremony of newly appointed members of National Youth Council (NYC) on Thursday, Asad said that during the past waves of coronavirus, the government’s strategy to handle the pandemic and overcome its after-effects had been very successful and the country was placed among the best three performing countries by the Economist’s Normalcy Index for handling it.

The minister urged the people to keep on following the standard operating procedure (SOPs) and vaccinate themselves to cope with the fourth wave in an effective manner. He, however, added that in case the ratio of positive cases goes up, the government would opt for smart lockdown as was done during the past phases.

The minister said that NCOC through a letter informed the Kashmir Election Commission about violation of coronavirus SOPs during ongoing election campaigns.

He appreciated the effort of Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Youth Affairs Usman Dar and congratulated the newly elected members of NYC. The minister said that it is very important to know the issues of youth from them, arguing that one can only understand problems of people by consulting those who face them and then come up with proper solutions.

The minister expressed satisfaction that the NYC has representation from all federating units and without any gender discrimination. He said that a lot of work has been done in providing skills to youth; however, he highlighted the importance of engaging the youth to tap their potential.

Separately, the NCOC directed the provinces to ensure strict implementation of the coronavirus SOPs on Eid-ul-Azha.

The NCOC expressed its concern as the national tally of active Covid cases surged past the 34,000 mark on the back of more than 1,500 new cases registered during the last 24 hours, the highest single-day tally since June 20.

The NCOC had confirmed the presence of different variants of the coronavirus, including the delta (Indian), beta (South African) and alpha (UK) variants, in Pakistan and detection of their cases in May and June. “We are sharing the UK’s genomics expertise with Pakistan, Brazil, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Singapore and the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, boosting disease surveillance and helping countries identify, track and respond to Covid variants, which are of concern globally.”

The NCOC had already issued special instructions for Eid-ul-Azha, which will be celebrated in the third week of this month.

The NCOC said that the national positivity ratio has also surged to 3.27 percent. Among the active cases, it said, 2,187 patients were admitted to various Covid-dedicated healthcare facilities of the country, including 1,941 in critical condition. It added that 197 patients were on ventilators.

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