Lahore among five Punjab districts declared 'high risk' after UK virus variant spreads

Punjab bans sports activities, Jashan-e-Baharan, and public gatherings in Lahore amid rise in coronavirus cases

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People stand in circles drawn with chalk to maintain safe distance outside a bank, during a lockdown, after Pakistan shut all markets, public places and discouraged large gatherings amid an outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Lahore, Pakistan March 30, 2020. — Reuters/File

Five districts in Punjab have been declared as "high risk" after the coronavirus spread in the province increased, as per Geo News.

In Lahore, the coronavirus positivity ratio has reached 12.67%, while 991 new cases have been reported in the last 24 hours — the highest number of infections reported in the city in a year.

As many as 94,292 people have contracted the virus in Lahore, and 2,303 patients have lost their lives to the disease.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Bazdar, amid the rise in cases, chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Coronavirus today.

The meeting expressed concerns over the rapid virus spread in the province. According to sources, the meeting was informed that a new coronavirus variant from the UK was spreading in Punjab, and had infected nearly 200 people.

The chief minister said the UK virus variant was spreading alarmingly in some cities. The province's chief, in a bid to curtail its spread, said districts with more than a 5% positivity ratio would have to strictly implement COVID-19 SOPs for the next 15 days on Sundays and Saturdays.

Latest restrictions

Meanwhile, according to APP, the meeting decided to ban sports activities, Jashan-e-Baharan, and public gatherings in Lahore and other high-positivity ratio districts for two weeks. Holding marriage ceremonies in marquees and marriage halls will also be banned for two weeks.

Markets will close after Maghrib prayers, while milk, medical stores, and tandoors will remain exempted.

Moreover, only takeaways will be allowed from restaurants. The meeting also approved the closure of shrines and cinema halls for two weeks.

Office staff will function on a 50% basis — half at the office and half of the staff at home.