National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Monday has decided to increase restrictions of activities contributing to rise in coronavirus positivity.

In a post on social-networking website Twitter, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar has said, “In the NCOC meeting this morning, we decided to increase restrictions of activities contributing to sharp increase in covid positivity.”

“The provincial and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administrations were also directed to tighten implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and crackdown on violations which are taking place,” he added.  

Meanwhile, country’s education and health ministers will meet on Wednesday (March 24) to decide about opening of educational institutions or extend the closure for few more weeks.

The federal and provincial education and health ministers will attend the meeting which will be chaired by Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood.

“The third coronavirus wave is serious; requires careful review. All education/health ministers will meet Wednesday March 24 at the NCOC to take a decision regarding opening or further closure of educational institutions. Health of students, teachers/staff primary consideration,” Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood tweeted.

On March 10, the education minister had announced closure of all public and private educational institutions in seven major cities of Punjab from March 15 to March 28.

He said that all educational institutions in Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Rawalpindi, Multan and Sialkot will remain close for two weeks for Spring break.

Shafqat Mahmood had also said that all educational institutions in Islamabad, Peshawar and Muzaffarabad will also remain close for two weeks. He clarified that the new orders were not be applicable on institutions which are going through exams.

The minister further said that situation of coronavirus pandemic was under control in Balochistan and Sindh so educational institutions in these provinces will follow policy of 50 percent attendance.

He said the provincial governments would continue monitoring the situation about the pandemic and they can decide about closure of any institution on the basis of facts. He said the NCOC will also be constantly monitoring the situation.

Speaking on the occasion, SAPM Faisal Sultan said that coronavirus cases are increasing in the country and urged administrative departments to enforce Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) regarding coronavirus.

The SAPM further said that the policy of smart lockdown and micro-smart lockdown in targeted areas and ban on holding marriage ceremonies in covered areas will continue across the country.

He said public parks will be closed at 6:00 pm and commercial activities at 10:00 pm except essential services. He said the situation will be further reviewed on 12th of next month. Offices have also been directed to function on 50 percent staff.

He said the vaccination process of senior citizens of 60 years of age and above has been started and these elderly people can get vaccination sending their CNIC number to 1166.

Pakistan has reported 20 deaths in the last 24 hours by novel coronavirus as the number of positive cases has surged to 630,471. The nationwide tally of fatalities has jumped to 13,863.

According to the latest figures by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), 3,669 persons tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

The country is currently under the third wave of coronavirus which is said to be more lethal and dangerous by the health authorities.