ISLAMABAD: A total of 1,708 new cases of the coronavirus were confirmed during the last 24 hours, bringing the national tally to 348,184, said the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Wednesday.
According to the NCOC, 21 more deaths were reported during the aforementioned period, bringing the country’s death toll from the disease to 7,021.
So far, a total of 320,065 people have recovered from the infection while the number of active cases stands at 21,098. With 31,989 samples tested during the past 24 hours, the number of tests so far conducted across the country has reached 4,773,496. The overall positivity rate reached 5.34 percent across the country.
The Sindh province on Wednesday reported over 700 virus cases, the highest figure since July this year. “We reported 720 fresh cases of COVID-19 in the province during the last 24 hours after performing 11,146 tests,” Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said while sharing the daily virus tally.
He said that the overall Covid-19 tally in the province has reached 152,072 positive cases after performing 1,760,918 tests since the pandemic hit the province in late February this year. “We have witnessed 449 recoveries in the day, bringing the overall recoveries to 141,446,” he said while sharing that 14 patients had died of coronavirus in the province during the last 24 hours, raising the death toll to 2,704.
Sharing astonishing figures of the virus cases from Karachi alone, the chief minister said that the city reported 522 COVID-19 cases out of 720 provincial cases during the last 24 hours.
District East remained on top with 242 cases, followed by 155 cases in South, 54 in Korangi, 51 in Central, 32 in Malir, and 18 cases in West, Murad Ali Shah shared while giving district-wise figures.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as many as 81 schools were sealed over violation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) designed to curb coronavirus spread. A report released on Wednesday stated that 81 schools including 78 government and three private ones were sealed after finding violating the SOPs. 62 schools were allowed to reopen after compliance with the standard operating procedures, while 19 government schools are still sealed.
The report highlighted that the COVID-19 testing ratio increased to 1.51pc from 1.12 in the last month of October.
Meanwhile, Government Boys Higher Secondary School in Karachi’s Sachal Goth area has been closed after the emergence of coronavirus cases on Wednesday.
According to a notification released by the DHO, the school has been closed for a week. The classrooms will be disinfected during the period before the reopening of the school. The teachers, students and the non-teaching staff have been asked to quarantine themselves.
Meanwhile, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has called for multiple measures to check the rising number of coronavirus cases in Pakistan including banning large public gatherings and enhancing restrictions in high risk areas due to Covid-19 resurge.
The NCOC meeting, chaired by Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar here on Wednesday, reviewed the epidemic curve data and disease prevalence in the country.
“The national political leadership across the political spectrum needs to demonstrate leadership to send a message to the entire nation for taking preventive steps and follow standard operating procedures (SOPs),” Asad Umar urged.
The forum suggested certain urgent measures to the National Coordination Committee to stem the spread of the pandemic. These measures include a ban on all public gatherings of more than five hundred people, early and extended winter vacations in schools; closure of cinemas, theatres and shrines with immediate effect; and only outdoor dining till 10:00pm at restaurants and takeaways.
Issuing guidelines about marriage ceremonies, the NCOC decided that only outdoor marriages with an upper limit of five hundred people will be allowed from 20th of this month.
The forum was told that the disease has increased three-fold since the NCOC recommended to ban large public gatherings and outdoor activities on 12th of the last month and third of this month to the National Coordination Committee for its final decision.
The forum was briefed that there is an increasing positivity ratio in educational institutions and there is a need to check this trend. The forum decided that on 16th of this month, Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood would chair a special meeting at NCOC with provincial education ministers on board to assess and review the positivity prevailing in educational institutions. After consultative discussions, the recommendations would be shared with the provinces for consequent decision and enforcement.
The NCOC appreciated adherence to SOPs in mosques for the last many months; however, it noted a decline in compliance at present and urged the stakeholders to keep following the procedures in place.
Meanwhile, Multan has recorded a positivity rate of 18.3 percent during the last twenty-four hours – the highest ratio across the country – according to the World Health Organization (WHO) daily report.
Other cities in Punjab with high positivity rates include Rawalpindi at 7.1 percent and Lahore at 4.8 percent.
The novel coronavirus claimed nine more lives and infected 502 people during the last 24 hours in Punjab – the highest since July 14, when it had recorded 553 cases in a single day.
A spokesperson of the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department said on Wednesday that nine more patients succumbed to the deadly virus in 24 hours, lifting the death toll to 2,429 in the province.
He maintained that the province reported 502 new cases of COVID-19, taking the overall tally of people infected with the pandemic to 107,831. Maximum number of cases of the virus in Punjab, 233, were reported in Lahore, while 74 new cases surfaced in Rawalpindi during the last 24 hours.
The Punjab government has imposed smart lockdown in various localities of Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi after a sharp increase in coronavirus cases. In Lahore, smart lockdown has been imposed in New Muslim Town C Block, Iqbal Town Raza Block, Sikandar Block and Umar Block, Garden Town, Cavalry Ground, DHA Phase One A and Phase 6.- TLTP