Pak increases restrictions as coronavirus cases continue to rise

Sajjad Hussain
·4-min read

Islamabad, Mar 22 (PTI) Pakistan on Monday decided to increase restrictions on various activities that were contributing to the continuous rise of coronavirus cases in the country.

The decision was taken during the meeting of the National Command and Control Centre (NCOC), the main national body set up to control the pandemic.

Minister for Planning Asad Umar, who is also the chief of the NCOC, said the decision to tighten the restriction was taken in the wake of the rise in the new cases which is not coming down despite efforts.

“In the NCOC meeting this morning we decided to increase restrictions of activities contributing to a sharp increase in COVID positivity. The provincial & ICT (Islamabad Capital Territory) administration were also directed to tighten implementation of sop's and crackdown on violations which are taking place,” he said in a tweet.

According to a statement issued by the NCOC, high impact interventions will be implemented in cities and districts with positivity rate greater than 8 per cent. However, in areas with less than 8 per cent positivity rate, the existing restrictions would continue.

While all types of indoor dining at restaurants have been closed, outdoor dining will remain open till 10pm. The takeaway service will not be impacted. All commercial activities categorised as less essential services would be closed by 8:00 pm and two safe days per week will be observed. The provinces will decide the days.

Indoor gatherings have been banned, however, outdoor activities with an upper limit of 300 persons will be allowed with strict adherence to COVID SOPs. Outdoor marriage functions till 10:00 pm with an upper limit of 300 guests for a duration of two hours have been allowed. Amusement parks were closed but walking or jogging tracks will remain open.

The NCOC said ban on cinemas and shrines will continue. It also announced a complete ban on contact sports, festivals, cultural and other events.

The NCOC said 50 per cent work from home policy will continue in all public and private offices and courts. Intercity public transport would operate at 50 per cent capacity and rail service at 70 per cent capacity.

It said compulsory mask wearing would be ensured by all federating units while incorporating innovative measures for enforcement. Stringent protocols for tourism would be followed.

According to the NCOS, “high impact interventions will be implemented forthwith and will remain enforced till April 11”, but a review will be carried out on April 7.

Earlier, Pakistan authorities fixed formulas to determine prices of imported coronavirus vaccines by the private sector as 3,669 new cases emerged in the last 24 hours, taking the national tally of cases to 630,471, according to the official data.

The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan notified procedure for Maximum Retail Prices (MRP) of imported COVID-19 vaccine in the country.

According to the notification, the trade price for imported vaccines, in finished form, will be equal to the landed cost plus 40 per cent mark-up and the price for imported vaccines in bulk form and local repack will be equal to landed cost plus packaging cost and 40 per cent mark-up for companies.

Moreover, retailers/institutions will get 15 per cent of the price as commission.

Official sources said that the price of two jabs of Russian Sputnik V will be Rs 8,449 and that for China’s CanSino Biologics vaccine would be Rs 4,225 per jab.

Meanwhile, the ministry of National Health Services stated that 20 more people died pushing the COVID-19 toll to 13,863.

Another 2,423 patients were in a critical condition. So far 583,538 people have recovered so far, making it a sizeable number.

The authorities performed 43,498 tests in the last one day, registering a positivity rate of 8.43 per cent, which is slightly lower than 9.47 on Friday.

Also, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood tweeted late on Sunday night that the education and health ministers would meet on March 24 to take a decision on opening or further closure of educational institutions in the country.

“The third coronavirus wave is serious; requires careful review. All education/health ministers will meet Wednesday March 24 at the NCOC to take a decision regarding opening or further closure of educational institutions. Health of students, teachers/staff primary consideration,” he tweeted.

Earlier, educational institutions were closed on March 15 for two weeks in selected cities due to a spike in the coronavirus. PTI SH RUP SCY SCY