Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health urges public to adopt all precautionary measures to help Pakistan overcome the pandemic
If the current surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations continues, the government will have no choice but the re-impose strict movement restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan warned on Tuesday.
“The coronavirus death rate has increased in the country,” he told a press conference in Islamabad, noting that it had climbed from less than 2 to 2.5-2.75 percent in the past week. The de facto health minister said that a few weeks ago, around 400-500 confirmed infections were being reported nationwide daily; this tally, he warned, has now climbed past 700.
Lamenting that the public was not adopting government-issued precautionary measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, he reiterated that the pandemic was far from over. With Pakistan now entering a second wave of the pandemic, he said, the government was working on an official plan to tighten SOPs.
“Our focus will be more on the cities and areas where the positivity ratio of the virus is high,” he said. “We urge local administrations to implement coronavirus SOPs,” he said, warning that fines would be imposed on people who do not adopt precautionary measures.
Listing some of the measures being considered, Dr. Sultan said operational hours for businesses might be reduced. He said the government was also considering establishing a hotline to allow citizens to report SOP violations. “Restrictions are hard and no government wishes to impose them,” he said, reiterating that the second wave could be beaten like the first if people followed safety measures.
Pakistan currently has 330,200 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 6,759 deaths due to COVID-19, and 311,814 recoveries. Nationwide, there are 11,627 active cases of the virus.
During its meeting on Wednesday morning, the National Command and Operation Center reiterated Sultan’s concerns and announced that face masks were now mandatory for all large gatherings, enclosed spaces and public and private offices. Provincial authorities were directed to ensure mask compliance, as well as the implementation of SOPs in markets, shopping malls, public transport and restaurants. It noted that, currently, 4,374 streets or residences were currently under a “smart lockdown.”