The National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) on Sunday decided to impose a ban on inter-city transport on weekends – Saturdays and Sundays – as the country’s tally for critical Covid-19 patients reached 3,568, the highest the country has seen so far.
Sindh’s provincial government also decided to suspend physical classes from 1-8 grades in view of the raging third wave of the contagious disease that killed at least 81 more people mostly in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) in the last 24 hours.
“Yesterday [April 3], there were 3,568 Covid patients in critical care in Pakistan. This is the highest number since Covid started,” said Minister for Planning Asad Umar, who also heads the NCOC, the country’s nerve centre for Covid-19 response.
“The need for strong enforcement of the SOP’s [standard operating procedures] is vital. Please take precautions and cooperate with administration in their enforcement efforts,” the minister urged people in a post on micro-blogging site Twitter.
The tweet coincided with an NCOC statement which announced that inter-provincial transport in the country will remain suspended on Saturdays and Sundays with effect from April 10.
“The restriction will last till April 25. Goods, freight, medical and other emergency services will be exempted from the ban,” read a statement. However, the railways will continue to operate seven days a week with 70 per cent occupancy, it added.
On Friday, a taskforce on Covid-19 in Sindh province decided to approach the NCOC, seeking a two-week ban on inter-provincial transport. “We are not in favor of a lockdown. We only want a ban on inter-provincial transport so as to break the cycle of the cases by restricting the movement of people,” Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had said while addressing the task force’s meeting.
The Sindh education department on Sunday also announced suspending physical classes in all public and private schools for 15 days across the province starting Tuesday (April 6).
“The decision was taken in view of the rising Covid-19 cases across the province,” said Sindh Minister for Education Saeed Ghani on Twitter. Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood also announced that the NCOC will take a decision with regard to suspension of usual educational activities on Tuesday.
“Education and health ministers [of all provinces] will meet at the NCOC Tuesday [tomorrow] to decide whether to open or further close educational institutions.
“The exam situation will also be discussed. Whatever is decided will be a collective decision of the country’s health and education authorities and NCOC,” Mahmood said in a social media post.
In view of the third wave of the coronavirus, the government on March 10 ordered closure of all schools in Covid-19 hotspots for two weeks from March 15. The closure was extended in high-risk areas and specific districts of the country till April 11.
According to the statistics issued by the NCOC on Sunday, Punjab again recorded the highest number of Covid-19 deaths over the last 24 hours, followed by the K-P. In the last 24 hours, three people died of Covid-19 in Sindh, 49 in Punjab, 23 in the K-P, five in Islamabad and one in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The country’s death toll has now reached 14,778. The NCOC said the total number of active cases in the country currently stood at 60,072, with at least 5,020 cases recorded in the last 24 hours.
According to the NCOC, about 55,605 tests were conducted across the country on April 3, of which 5,020 came out positive, taking the country’s tally for cases so far reported to 687,908.
Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan on Sunday said the federal government is enhancing health facilities in the country in the wake of increasing coronavirus cases
“Punjab government is utilizing all its resources for the treatment of coronavirus patients,” he said while talking to the media during his visit to a vaccination centre established at Lahore’s Expo Centre.
He appreciated the Punjab government and Health department for facilitating the senior citizens at vaccination centres across the province. “As per the directions of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the vaccination process effectively continues in a well-organized manner across the country,” he said.