New restrictions to be enforced from April 5, but provinces are free to expedite timeline in accordance with ground realities
The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Sunday announced a complete ban on both indoor and outdoor wedding ceremonies from April 5 in areas with a positivity ratio of 8 percent or more according to a three-day rolling average.
Following an “emergency” meeting to review the “alarming” situation arising out of the ongoing third wave of the pandemic, the body overseeing the national coronavirus response stressed that any province was free to implement earlier bans on wedding ceremonies in accordance with ground realities. It also said that the government was considering implementing harsher restrictions on inter-provincial travel to curb the spread of the virus, but noted that a final decision would only be taken after discussions with all federating units and analysis of data on inter-provincial commuters via air, road and rail.
“Various options for reduction of inter-provincial transport were considered,” read the statement, adding that limiting the number of passengers allowed in a single vehicle was also under consideration.
Regarding further measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, the NCOC said it would provide updated hotspot maps to provinces for enforcement of expanded lockdowns, adding that these would go into effect from March 29 (today).
The meeting also instructed all federating units to ensure timely completion of vaccination targets set by the NCOC, as well as the timely uploading and registering of data in the online portal that monitors the process, the National Immunization Management System. “Correct and timely data ingestion in NIMS be ensured by all provinces,” it said.
The NCOC meeting was chaired by Planning Minister Asad Umar and was attended by the chief ministers of all four provinces via video link. “Held NCOC meeting today with provincial chief secretaries and reviewed the situation. Based on continuing increase in disease spread and fast pace at which hospital fill up is taking place, particularly critical COVID patients, decided to further tighten restrictions,” he posted on Twitter after the meeting.
Pakistan has been reporting a national positivity ratio over 8 percent for over a week now, with authorities warning that the situation risks overloading the country’s healthcare infrastructure. Umar, last week, urged the public to adopt all preventative measures, warning that if the current trajectory of the third wave continued, it could surpass both the first and second wave in terms of hospital admissions and overall infections.