Planning Minister Asad Umar says government strategy to focus on containing risk of contagion by ensuring compliance with safety guidelines
A meeting of the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Thursday decided to ensure strict compliance with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus as part of the government’s “track, trace and quarantine” strategy.
Chaired by Planning Minister Asad Umar in Islamabad, the meeting was attended by the chief secretaries of all four provinces, as well as the administrators of Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
According to a press release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, Umar said the “heart of the strategy to contain risk of contagion” was to ensure compliance with SOPs, and enforcement of quarantine measures. He urged the meeting’s participants to ensure all the measures were swiftly implemented to evolve a successful strategy in reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread.
The participating officials informed the NCOC that strict administrative action had been initiated against everyone who was violating SOPs and social distancing measures in public places and high-risk areas of markets, public transport and industries.
The chief secretary of Punjab province said strict SOPs and social distancing would be ensured, adding that violations in even a single shop would result in the entire market, business center and plaza being sealed. He said fines of around Rs. 650,000 had already been imposed on transporters for violating SOPs, adding fines would also be imposed on citizens who weren’t wearing face masks in public places, and other high-risk areas.
The chief secretary of Sindh province informed the forum that business centers, bazaars and markets violating SOPs and safety guidelines had been issued strict warning notices.
The chief secretary of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province lamented that the public was not complying with SOPs, and safety measures were unsatisfactory. “There is a careless attitude [about the virus] among the public,” he said.
He said that the decisions taken by the National Coordination Committee on COVID-19 on June 1, and subsequent NCOC sessions on June 2 and 3 had already been forwarded to the provincial administration for strict implementation.
Two markets in various districts of the province, including capital Peshawar, have already been sealed for violating safety protocols, he said, adding that the government had posted around 25,000 ‘No Masks No Service’ banners and hoardings across the province to raise awareness about the need for compliance with safety measures.
The chief secretary of Balochistan province said that in light of spiking cases of the coronavirus following easing in lockdown measures, the provincial administration had prepared a comprehensive plan to initiate stringent action against SOP violators.
Similarly, the chief secretary of Gilgit-Baltistan informed the forum that a “smart lockdown” strategy had been implemented, and it had helped minimize COVID-19 spread. He said the government had decided to impose a fine of Rs. 100 on any individual not wearing a mask in public places.
The chief secretary of Pakistan-administered Kashmir briefed the forum on the region resuming public transport, adding that SOP compliance was being enforced, while effective contact tracing was being conducted to trace affected patients and their close contacts.
The NCOC meeting occurred as Pakistan surpassed China in confirmed cases of the coronavirus with 85,250 infections. On average, Pakistan has been recording more than 4,700 new cases of COVID-19 daily for the past 4 days.