Thursday Oct 29, 2020
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s coronavirus positivity rate crossed 3% mark for the first time in more than 70 days, Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar said on Thursday, urging the public to follow safety guidelines amid the deteriorating situation of the pandemic.
Read more: Restaurants, shopping malls must shut down at 10pm, says NCOC amid rising coronavirus cases
Asad Umar, who also supervises COVID-19 strategy, said, “after more than 70 days the national covid positivity ratio was higher than 3% yesterday”.
He said that the NCOC has tightened restrictions on some high-risk public activities but the rising spread of the disease can only be controlled if people believe in the need for precautions.
Pakistan reported 908 new cases of coronavirus on October 28, the highest number of positive cases since July 29. The authorities conducted 29,449 tests of which 908 returned positive while 16 deaths were also recorded in the day.
The federal authorities have issued multiple warnings in the past few days on the ignorance towards implementation of Covid-19 SOPs as the second wave hits the country.
On Wednesday, the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) issued fresh rules regarding the closure of wedding halls and shopping malls and made the wearing of face mask mandatory.
On Tuesday, the government had said that strict coronavirus restrictions are inevitable given the rise in COVID-19 deaths and the positivity ratio across Pakistan.
Prime Minister's Special Assistant on Health, Dr Faisal Sultan had said that a few weeks ago, 400-500 cases were being reported across the country on a daily basis. The tally, he said, had shot up to 700-750 cases per day.
Read more: As virus resurges, NCOC approves use of antigen testing for coronavirus patients
"The coronavirus death rate has increased in the country," he gad said, adding that that the positivity ratio had surged to 2.5-2.75%.
Dr Faisal said that people were not adhering to coronavirus precautions as they should, given the pandemic was still far from over.
Early this month, NCOC said that it has observed wedding halls and indoor restaurants to be "high contributors" to the spread of the contagious disease.
Following the observation, on October 9, the body issued new guidelines for wedding halls, saying that it was officially restricting the number of guests and limiting functions till 10pm.
For indoor events, a maximum of 300 guests has been allowed and for outdoor events, a maximum of 500 guests, with the gathering to only last 2 hours.
The statement said that if wedding halls are found to be in violation of the SOPs then they will be closed off at a “specified time” and a heavy fine will also be imposed. It further said that the closure of SOPs-defying wedding halls will come into effect two weeks after the notices are served so people get “sufficient time” to search for alternate venues.