The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Sunday decided to ban wedding ceremonies from April 5 onwards in cities and districts where the positivity rate is above 8 per cent, as part of new restrictions to contain the third wave of the novel coronavirus in Pakistan.
Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar chaired the session which was attended by the chief secretaries of all four provinces via video link. In the meeting, the NCOC decided the ban would extend to both indoor and outdoor weddings, however, “provinces will be at liberty to implement restrictions in an early time frame as per the situation on ground”.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan strongly urged the public to follow Covid-19 SOPs and the necessary precautions, cautioning that the third wave of the virus in Pakistan was “more intense” than the first two waves.
The new set of restrictions comes as Pakistan finds itself in the grips of a third coronavirus wave. Pakistan recorded more than 4,000 cases for a third straight day on Sunday with 4,767 new coronavirus cases and 57 deaths in the last 24 hours. This marks the highest single-day increase since June 21, 2020, 4,916 cases were reported.
The current spike was again led by Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad with 2,823, 979 and 538 new cases, respectively.
The country-wide breakdown of new cases is as follows:
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 979
Azad Jammu and Kashmir: 122
Gilgit Baltistan: 9
Umar said the decision to tighten restrictions was taken keeping in mind the “continuing increase in disease spread and the fast pace at which hospital fill up is taking place”, particularly pointing to the increase in cases of critical Covid patients.
He said the provincial chief secretaries had been instructed to ensure compliance of Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) and urged people to “cooperate with the administration as they are enforcing these SOPs for safeguarding us”.
Prime minister’s message:
Prime Minister Imran in his message highlighted the grave situation facing the country, and recalled his own experience with the virus.
"I took care for one whole year, didn’t go to any wedding or eat at any restaurant, kept my social distancing and mostly wore a mask so I was protected. When the first two waves and peaks of Covid came, I was among those Pakistanis who managed to avoid this disease.
"When the Senate election came, [however], I didn’t take the care that I should have and I contracted the disease as well," he said.