In wake of the rapid surge in coronavirus cases across the country, National Command Operation Center (NCOC) on Monday proposed the government to announce week-long Eid holidays from May 10 to May 16.
According to sources, the proposal for week-long holidays has been sent to the Ministry of Interior. The ministry will make a decision and then send its proposal to the federal cabinet for the final decision.
Last week, the NCOC suggested more restrictions to control the worsening situation of the COVID-19 in the country.
“We will have to increase the restrictions. If we do not contain the rapid spread of pandemic, we will have no option but to impose a complete lockdown in the big cities,” Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said after chairing the meeting of NCOC.
He said they would present their recommendations to the National Coordination Committee on Friday, which would take the final decision.
The minister warned that it was the last chance that the people should take the pandemic serious as they did in the first wave last year, as, otherwise, they would have to suffer from strict restrictions.
He regretted that neither the people nor the administration were showing their responsibility to ensure full compliance of the precautions and anti-COVID Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued by the government. He requested the provincial chief ministers to show leadership in that regard.
“All possible assistance (from the Federal Government) is at their disposal, but they have to show leadership on ground as the people will follow their message,” he added.
Asad Umar again warned that the country was only a few days away from the complete lockdown so the people must follow the SOPs to stem the surge of COVID-19.
The number of active corona patients, he said, had now risen to over 83,000 from a few thousands a few week ago. The COVID test positivity ratio was alarmingly increasing as evident from 33 percent in Mardan, 26 percent in Peshawar, 20 percent in Noshehra, 38 percent in Bahawalpur, 25 percent in Faisalabad, 27 percent in Lahore, 21 percent in Multan and 28 percent in Rawaplindi.
The test positivity ratio in Sindh province, however, was low but it was also increasing gradually as it was recorded 13 percent in Karachi and 14 percent in Hyderabad, he added. The minister said the number of corona patients were being admitted to hospitals had also increased to over 600 per day from 100 to 150 earlier.
He said in June last year when the pandemic was on peak in the first wave, the maximum number of patients on oxygen was around 3,400, which had now increased to 4,500.
Asad Umar said the current week would be the worst in term of the number of deaths as highest ever number of COVID patients were being expired.
A week earlier, not more than 26 patients were dying of COVID, but their number crossed 137 per day, he added.
The minister said the number of oxygen beds in hospitals was being increased and the situation at the moment was under control, however, it might go out of control if the COVID cases kept on rising.
He said the country had limited oxygen production capacity. The supply of oxygen had almost reached 90 percent of the total capacity, he added.
As regards the region, the minister said in Iran the daily COVID cases had increased to 25,000 and 395 deaths per day. Similar in India, about 14,000 new cases and 90 deaths per day were being reported earlier, but yesterday the number was increased to over 275,000 cases and 1,761 deaths.
“The whole region was in the grip of very dangerous COVID wave,” the minister said, adding a new variant of the coronavirus was spreading rapidly in India and that was why the Pakistan had decided to ban traveling to and from the neighbouring country.