Lahore: Pakistan reached a bleak milestone in its battle with coronavirus as the official death toll for the first half of December crossed 1,000. Data issued by the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) on Friday showed that the virus has claimed 1,073 lives in 17 days. The death toll is higher than in November when a total of 1,268 people died of coronavirus. On the other hand, the month of October recorded 339 COVID-19 deaths and September 186.
The country’s coronavirus tally rose by 2,972 new cases, raising the cumulative number of infections to 451,494. With over 1,300 new cases, Sindh’s COVID-19 tally has reached 201,080 while the second most infections have been reported in Punjab with a cumulative tally of 130,122.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has recorded 54,021 cases, Islamabad 35,700 and Balochistan 17,868. Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit Baltistan have so far reported 7,893 and 4,810 infections respectively. Pakistan has one of the highest recovery rates in the world as over 87% of those diagnosed with the novel coronavirus have recovered. The most number of recoveries have been reported in Sindh with 178,027 people surviving the virus. Punjab has reported 115,701 recoveries, followed by 48,254 in KP, and 29,417 in Islamabad. Balochistan recorded 17,258 recoveries, AJK 6,588 and GB 4,607.
Vaccine: Federal Minister for Planning and Development and NCOC chief Asad Umar has said that the federal cabinet has approved procurement of the vaccines, which are expected to arrive sometime between January and March next year.
Pakistan has also signed up for the United Nation’s COVAX Facility, a global initiative aimed at equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines worldwide. There are multiple local and China-made vaccine trials being conducting across the country. Bids to contain the virus: With the rising spread of the virus, the federal government on December 9 warned it would shut down more sectors if the public continued to violate coronavirus SOPs. Asad Umar said there was a rapid increase in infections during the second wave as the public was less serious than it was during the first wave.
He warned that if the virus is not contained, the government may decide to close down more sectors and impose stricter restrictions in two weeks’ time.
The federal government has already made face masks mandatory in public spaces, limited large public gatherings to 300, banned indoor weddings, closed shrines, cinemas, and theatres, and instructed public and private offices to adopt a work-from-home policy and 50% occupancy.
The federal government has also announced that educational institutes will remain closed from November 26 to January 10. The students will study at home or get weekly homework till December 24 and winter vacations will start December 25. The schools will reopen on January 11 – which is subject to coronavirus situation then. All examinations have been postponed except admission and recruitment tests.
Furthermore, all provinces have banned indoor dining and limited timings for markets, shops, and shopping malls. Many areas in the country have been placed under smart lockdowns.
Public gatherings: With an intensely political environment, the country has been seeing large public gatherings aimed to remove the incumbent government. The Opposition recently held power-shows in Peshawar, Multan, and Lahore with thousands of people attending the jalsa but without face masks and social distancing.