pakistan covid vaccine
Pakistan has recorded the highest number of coronavirus cases in five months, with positivity rate surging to nearly 8 per cent. Image Credit: Reuters

Islamabad: Pakistan’s COVID-19 cases on Sunday crossed 4,000 mark for the second consecutive day, raising alarm and fears the country might face curbs if the upward streak continued.

Pakistan has recorded the highest number of coronavirus cases in five months, with positivity rate surging to nearly 8 per cent.

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) urged the provinces to review the situation and weigh various options, including placing restrictions on public gatherings, weddings, schools, restaurants and public transport.

A meeting of health and education ministers has been called on January 17 to review non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) in the wake of the rising curve.

‘Ban on in-flight meals’

The NCOC a day earlier in its meeting had decided to recommend a ban on in-flight meals and serving of snacks on public transport. This will come into effect from Monday.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has been asked to ensure wearing of facemasks and compliance with other Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) during flights as well as at all airports.

According to the NCOC statement, the forum in its meeting discussed the current situation, disease prevalence and proposed NPI in the wake of the surge in COVID-19 disease in the country.

The forum decided to engage with the provinces, especially with the Sindh government, for necessary measures to restrict the rising trend, it stated.

Situation grim in Karachi

The situation has turned serious, particularly in Karachi, where COVID-19 positivity rate has surpassed 35 per cent as compared to 9.94 per cent in Rawalpindi, 8.5 per cent in Lahore and 5.43 in Peshawar and 6.95 per cent in Islamabad.

In the past 24 hours, after 51,236 tests, the country recorded as many as 4,027 new cases and nine more deaths while the positivity rate stood at 7.8 per cent.

According to the NCOC, the provinces and administrative units have been asked to review preparedness against any emergent situation.

They have asked to survey healthcare facilities to ascertain the availability of oxygenated beds, oxygen stocks and reserves.

In Karachi, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah chaired a meeting of the provincial task force on coronavirus and it was decided that government officials found without facemasks would be fined equal to the amount of their one-day remuneration.

It was decided to make wearing of facemasks mandatory at public places and private offices.

The chief minister also directed the administration to ensure that vaccination certificates were checked and unvaccinated individuals were barred from entering restaurants, markets and marriage halls.