Planning minister urges public to exercise caution as he notes ‘unmistakable’ signs of rising infections
Planning Minister Asad Umar on Thursday urged Pakistanis to once again take seriously government-issued guidelines to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, warning of a recent surge in new infections.
“National positivity of COVID cases was 2.37 percent yesterday,” he said in a posting on Twitter. “This is the highest positivity in more than 50 days. Last time this level was seen [was] on Aug. 23. First four days of this week COVID deaths average is 11 per day … highest since week of Aug. 10,” he said. “Unmistakable signs of rise of corona,” he added.
In a subsequent posting, he urged the public to stop being complacent about government-issued standard operating procedures (SOPs), specifically citing regions where the positivity ratio was high. “COVID positivity is extremely high in Muzaffarabad [Pakistan-administered Kashmir], remains high in Karachi, rising in Lahore and Islamabad,” he said. “Time for all of us to take COVID SOPs seriously again. Otherwise, unfortunately we may have to take restrictive actions, which have negative effects on peoples’ livelihoods,” he added.
Umar, last week, told a private broadcaster that if it were up to him, he would ban all public gatherings altogether in the face of the rising infections. Within days of this declaration, the PTI staged rallies in Sindh and Islamabad. The opposition has alleged the government is trying to hobble their movement by “hiding” behind COVID, pointing out that the situation cannot be so bad if the government has yet to re-impose any movement restrictions and is continuing to keep schools, offices and all businesses operating as normal.
On Thursday, Pakistan recorded 756 infections of the novel coronavirus after conducting 31,862 tests—a positivity ratio of 2.37 percent. Boasting fewer than 5,000 active cases of COVID-19 earlier this month, Pakistan currently has 9,209 active cases now.