Students of the Jamia Binoria Al Alamia (Binoria University International) seminary sit for an exam during their first semester in Karachi on September 11, 2021. ) Image Credit: AFP

Islamabad: The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) announced on Tuesday the reopening of schools and lifting of the Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) in 18 of the 24 districts in view of decline in COVID-19 cases.

Restrictions in these districts were enforced from September 4 after a surge in coronavirus cases was reported.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Chairman of the NCOC, Federal Minister Asad Umar said the decision was taken after a decline was observed in coronavirus cases in the said districts.

Residents in these districts are now required to comply with general COVID-19 restrictions as in the rest of the country and there will be no additional curbs, he said.

Six districts to remain under curbs

However in the six districts — Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujrat, Sargodha and Bannu — where the prevalence of COVID-19 was still higher than the rest of the country, additional restrictions would remain enforced but with some changes.

The changes include: Schools to reopen with 50pc attendance; outdoor dining allowed until midnight; gyms and amusement parks to open for fully vaccinated citizens; restriction lifted on outdoor gatherings of up to 400 guests and Intercity transport to resume operation with 50 per cent occupancy.

On September 4, the NCOC had enforced additional curbs in 24 districts of Punjab and Khyber Pakthunkhwa — Faisalabad, Sargodha, Khushab, Mianwali, Rahim Yar Khan, Khanewal, Bhakkar, Multan, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Gujrat, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Sheikhupura, Bahawalpur, Haripur, Malakand, Mansehra, Swabi, Dera Ismail Khan, Swat, Abbottabad, Peshawar and Islamabad till September 12.

Later, these restrictions were extended till September 15.

The decision to continue the restrictions was taken amid significant pressure on critical care, hospital admissions and oxygen requirements.

As per the special NPIs, there was a complete ban on all sorts of indoor and outdoor gatherings, all types of indoor gyms, intercity public transport, and the educational sector till September 15, the Forum had decided.

Pakistan’s planning minister has warned that people who are not vaccinated will not be allowed to work from offices after this month.

Asad Umar warned the unvaccinated people after the September 30 deadline would not be eligible to enter shopping malls or use public transport, train service or to travel by air.

Umar said about 52 per cent of the adult population in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, had been vaccinated and other cities should also try to vaccinate at least 40 per cent of their eligible population as soon as possible to avoid lockdowns and COVID-19 related restrictions.

7,240 recovered from COVID-19 in 24 hours

Pakistan’s recovery rate is steadily going up and for the first time in months, 7,240 persons were reported to have recovered from COVID-19 in 24 hours, the NCOC data further reveals.

The country’s total recoveries are now 1.097 million, according to the NCOC.

Likewise, the daily COVID-19 cases remained less than 3,000 cases on the third consecutive day on Tuesday and against 47,419 tests conducted during the past twenty-four hours, the country reported 2,580 new cases of COVID-19.

According to the NCOC, 78 deaths in the last 24 hours took Pakistan’s casualties figure to 26,865 while the coronavirus positivity rate remained 5.44 per cent, the third consecutive day of less than 6 per cent positivity.

According to the NCOC official account on social media, Pakistan’s active cases had also declined from 90,545 on Monday to 85,801 on Tuesday.