ISLAMABAD: The third wave of coronavirus took a deadly turn on Saturday as Pakistan’s single-day death toll surged to its highest to 157 deaths.

Previously, the highest death toll reported by Pakistan was 153 on June 20th of last year.

The new deaths take the nationwide death toll to 16,999. Out of the 157 reported in the last 24 hours the most deaths were reported in Punjab followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

On the other hand, Pakistan’s national positivity ratio shot up to 11.27% on Saturday as the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) data showed that 52,402 tests were conducted in Pakistan in the last 24 hours, out of those 5,908 returned positive.

The new cases have taken the national tally of positive cases to 790,016 with 285,542 reported in Punjab, 276,670 in Sindh, 112,140 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 72,613 in Islamabad, 21,477 in Balochistan, 16,327 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and 5,247 in Gilgit Baltistan.

On the other hand 686,488 people have recovered from COVID-19. The number of active cases stands at 86,529.

Follow coronavirus SOPs, PM urges

Amid the rising cases, Prime Minister Imran Khan has ruled out the possibility of implementing a full lockdown across the country and has urged the public to follow coronavirus standard operating procedures to avoid a “complete lockdown”.

PM Khan made the announcement after chairing an important meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) on Friday afternoon to give an update on the new coronavirus restrictions as the country battles the third wave of the virus.

Even though a full lockdown was ruled out by the NCC, the apex body took a few important decision as well. The federal government has also sought Pakistan Army’s help to enforce COVID-19 SOPs.

The decision made were:

  • Schools in cities with positivity rates above 5% closed until Eid, including classes 9-12
  • Markets to stay open till 6pm. Only essential businesses can operate after 6pm. A list of essential business will be issued.
  • Outdoor and indoor dining banned until Eid. Takeaway and deliveries will be allowed.
  • Indoor gyms to be closed.
  • Offices capacity at 50% and are to be closed daily at 2pm.
  • Eid shopping will not be possible after iftar.
  • 50% work from home policy to be implemented in offices.

‘Few days away from a complete lockdown’

On Wednesday, the NCOC on Wednesday had suggested more restrictions to control COVID-19.

“We will have to increase the restrictions. If we do not contain the rapid spread of the pandemic, we will have no option but to impose a complete lockdown in the big cities,” Umar had said after chairing an NCOC meeting.

The minister had warned that this was the last chance for people to take the pandemic seriously as done in the first wave last year. Otherwise, he warned, they would have to suffer strict restrictions.

He regretted that neither was the public nor the administration showing responsibility to ensure full compliance with precautions and anti-COVID SOPs issued by the government.

Umar had warned that the country was only a few days away from a complete lockdown so people must follow SOPs to stem the surge of COVID-19.

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