ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) on Wednesday announced two weeks of spring break in educational institutions of seven major cities of Punjab from the 15th of this month along with withdrawing the indoor gatherings as well.
The meeting of the NCOC was held here under Federal Minister Asad Umar to review the increasing number of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the country.
The NCOC forum decided to announce two weeks of Spring break in educational institutions of seven major cities including Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Sialkot and Multan. The spring break will be held from March 15 to 28.
The forum was given a comprehensive update and review about non-pharmaceutical interventions already issued and which were valid till 15th March. In view of prevailing diseases pattern and rising positivity ratio, the forum decided that strict compliance of mask-wearing would continue across the board.
It also decided that SLDs/Micro SLDs would continue to be imposed based on the disease prevalence/hotspots while 50% work from the home policy would be implemented at the discretion of federating units. However, it would be enforced in ICT with immediate effect.
NCOC also decided that the time limit of 10:00 pm on all commercial activities would be re-enforced with immediate effect, less essential services and amusement parks across the country would be closed at 6:00 pm.
The decision of allowing indoor weddings, indoor dining and the opening of cinemas and shrines with effect from 15th March 2021 has also been withdrawn. However, outdoor dining/take away will continue to remain open as per previous practice.
NCOC decided that outdoor gatherings would continue to remain limited to a maximum of 300 individuals with strict enforcement of COVID-19 SOPs. It decided that a review of all enforced NPIs would be carried out on 12th April 2021.
Later addressing a news conference, Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) Dr Faisal Sulatn said that Pakistan’s corona outbreak rate was increasing and COVID-19 cases had increased during last week.
Informing about the decisions taken in the NCOC, Dr Faisal Sultan said that wearing of face masks had been made mandatory while the policy of work with 50% at the office would be implemented.
He said that it had been recommended to close amusement parks across the country by 6 pm and the decision to allow food inside hotels and wedding calls from March 15 had been suspended.
Dr Faisal Sultan said that sitting outside hotels and restaurants and eating would be allowed and all these decisions would be reviewed again on 12th April
Dr Faisal Sultan said that the process of vaccinating people over 60 years of age had also begun today (Wednesday). He said that citizens over 60 years of age could be given vaccination by sending their ID number to 1166.
Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood said that 50 million children go to education institutions daily. He said that situation in Sindh and Balochistan was better, however, COVID-19 cases had increased in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Azad Kashmir.
He said that in case of an increase in COVID-19 cases authorities could completely lock down any city.
Shafqat Mahmood said that all educational institutions in seven cities of Punjab including Multan, Faisalabad, Gujarat, Rawalpindi, Sialkot, Lahore and Gujranwala had been closed for two weeks for spring holidays. He said that education institutions in Islamabad and Peshawar would also be closed from March 15 to 28. He said that ban would not apply to students taking part in exams.
According to the NCOC data, 1786 people tested COVID-19 positive on March 09. It said that 43 people lost their lives due to corona during the last 24 hours. NCOC said that 37% of ventilators in Lahore were occupied, 37% in Islamabad, 24% in Peshawar and 21% in Rawalpindi.
NCOC said that total active COVID-19 cases in Pakistan had reached 16,699 as of March 10 and 39,425 tests conducted in the previous 24 hours. In Sindh 7,499 tests were conducted, 15,260 in Punjab, 6,012 in KP, 9,240 in ICT, 520 in Balochistan, 264 in GB and 630 in AJK.