ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan will preside over a meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) on Monday (today) to devise a strategy to deal with the rising number of coronavirus cases in the country as over 2,400 new cases were reported on Sunday.
The NCC meeting is likely to take a decision about early and extended winter vacations in educational institutions as suggested by the Nov 11 meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) to reduce the impact of the disease.
The NCOC had also suggested banning all public gatherings, including political, cultural, religious, entertainment and civil society of more than 500 people, reducing the number of participants in marriage functions by 50 per cent, allowing only takeaways and outdoor dining at restaurants till 10pm and closing all cinemas, theatres and shrines with immediate effect.Talking to Dawn, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Health Services Sajid Shah said the NCC meeting would be held at the PM Office at 4pm on Monday.
“There will be representation of all provinces and other stake holders in the meeting. Participants of the NCC meeting will discuss suggestions given by the Nov 11 NCOC meeting and a decision to endorse them as per situation of the pandemic will be taken,” he said.
“During the meeting of the NCOC, opinion of health experts is sought, data of the NCOC is analysed and then decisions are taken,” Mr Shah said.
According to a data released by the NCOC on Sunday, as many as 2,443 people contracted coronavirus on Sunday and active cases of the disease reached 26,538 on Nov 15.
Earlier, over 2,400 cases were reported on July 13 and since then the number of cases had started dropping per day and reached less than 300 in September.
The virus was first detected in China in December last year and cases of the disease started spreading to other countries of the world.
Pakistan had closed its borders and took a number of steps to contain the transmission of the coronavirus and because of these measures the first case of Covid-19 in the country was reported in the last week of February.
On March 13, the first meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) comprising top civil and military leadership was held to discuss the crisis which was later declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Prime Minister Imran Khan had chaired a meeting of the NSC and directed authorities concerned to devise a comprehensive strategy to prevent the spread of the disease.
A lockdown was announced on March 16 and a number of industries including construction industry, educational institutions, restaurants, marriage halls, etc were closed.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was involved to ensure medical equipment and health-related supplies at the earliest and the move led to improved coordination among the provinces to fight the disease.
Pakistan also sealed its western borders with Afghanistan and Iran and even Kartarpur shrine was closed for the people.
Though the construction industry was opened on Aug 7, the National Coordination Committee (NCC) on Covid-19 lifted restrictions on tourism sector on Aug 8 and on restaurants and transport sector on Aug 10 and gave a timetable for opening of some other sectors, including educational institutions and marriage halls on Sept 15.
The situation remained under control till September, but then Covid-19 cases started increasing again in October due to which the NCOC had to announce that the second wave of the disease had hit the country and smart lockdowns were enforced in different cities.
On Nov 11, the NCOC meeting decided to increase restrictions in different sectors and suggested early and extended winter vacations in educational institutions besides taking other measures to contain the spread of the disease.