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NCOC Warns of Consistent Increase in COVID Cases Across Pakistan

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo of an earlier NCOC meeting. Courtesy PID

Forum reiterates calls for SOP compliance as positivity ratio, mortalities and hospital admissions all spike in past week

The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Friday warned that there had been a consistent increase in Pakistan’s COVID-19 positivity ratio, virus-related deaths, and hospital admissions in the past week.

In a morning meeting, the forum reviewed data on the ongoing pandemic and noted that the positivity ratio had risen for a fifth consecutive day. According to a statement issued by the NCOC, the average positivity ratio had climbed by 40 percent in the past four days alone. It said the mortality rate was also once more on the rise.

“It was also noted that Muzaffarabad, Hyderabad, Karachi and Gilgit-Baltistan have a higher positivity ratio along with other areas across the country,” read the statement, adding that hospital admissions for serious patients were increasing, especially in Punjab province.

The Punjab chief secretary informed the NCOC that the mortality rate in Punjab had been recorded as 1.6 on Sept. 1 and in the past month-and-a-half had increased to 6. “Meanwhile, the province’s positivity ratio has increased from 0.92 to 1.33,” the statement added.

The forum also analyzed the fatality rate, saying Pakistan’s had climbed to 2.06 percent, compared to the global average of 2.72 percent. “[In Pakistan] men account for 71 percent of the total deaths. Of these, 76 percent are over the age of 50,” read the NCOC statement.

Warning signs

On Thursday night, Planning Minister Asad Umar, who also heads the NCOC, told a private broadcaster that indicators pointed to Pakistan facing a second wave of the novel coronavirus. He urged the opposition to cancel their anti-government rallies, claiming they could prove to be super-spreader events.

Punjab Health Minister Dr. Yasmin Rashid, on Friday morning, told Geo News that she hoped the opposition would enforce government-issued SOPs to curb the spread of COVID-19 at their rallies. To a question, she said that the Tablighi Jamaat—Pakistan’s first major super-spreader event from earlier this year—had been allowed to proceed in Lahore, adding they had been directed to ensure SOPs were not violated.

Earlier this week, the NCOC issued a statement urging citizens to avoid complacency and continue wearing face masks and avoiding public gatherings to prevent the virus from spreading. It warned that if cases continued to climb, the government would have “no choice” but to re-impose movement restrictions, warning that it could prove disastrous for the country’s economy.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has also admitted that he fears a second wave of COVID-19 with the onset of winter, when pollution levels increase and viral infections spread more easily. “I fear that in October and November cities like Faisalabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Gujranwala, where there is more pollution, might see a second spike in coronavirus cases,” he said.

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