KARACHI: Pakistan recently made it compulsory for citizens to wear face masks in public places in an effort to contain a fresh coronavirus outbreak.
The government also announced the shutting of all parks and entertainment venues by 6 p.m. and markets, shopping centres, restaurants and banquet halls by 10 p.m. nationwide.
Announcing the new preventive measures, the head of the country’s COVID-19 response, Asad Umar, said all provinces have been asked to ensure that people wear face masks and adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs), particularly in markets, shopping malls, public transport and restaurants.
He also said on Twitter that the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) has approved the use of antigen testing in addition to the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests being carried out.
“This is part of a strategy to increase the level of testing. The symptomatic cases will all still be administered PCR tests. The decision is in line with the guidelines issued by the WHO,” he added.
Pakistan was one of the few countries where coronavirus cases significantly declined, prompting the government to ease a months-long lockdown in May.
In September, the World Health Organization also praised Pakistan for handling the pandemic effectively.
However, the country has recorded a gradual increase in COVID-19 cases over the past several weeks, largely in October, with the daily death toll jumping from single digits to double digits.
Warning citizens of a second wave of the pandemic, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday urged citizens to “strictly” follow the safety precautions at least for the next two months.