Rest of Asia

Face masks made must amid fears of second Covid wave in Pakistan

Filed on October 28, 2020
A worker checks body temperature of a student upon her arrival at a primary school in Lahore.

(AP file)

80% disease spread, positivity ratio in 11 major cities recorded

A health panel run by the Pakistan government to control the spread of coronavirus in the country on Wednesday made it mandatory for people to wear face masks in public places, including markets, shopping malls, in public transport and at restaurants.

The directive comes a day after Pakistan’s active cases surpassed the 11,000 mark and special assistant to the prime minister on health Dr Faisal Sultan announced that the second wave of the deadly virus had started in the country.

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) said that around 80 per cent disease spread and increase in positivity ratio was recorded in 11 major cities of the country.

The NCOC, which met with Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar in the chair, was told that 4,374 lockdowns had been imposed in different areas of the country, restricting movement of 30,610 people.

It said that wearing of face masks was must in all government and private sector offices.

The 11 major cities with increased disease spread and positivity ratio included Quetta, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan, Peshawar, Islamabad, Hyderabad, Mirpur, Karachi, Gilgit and Muzaffarabad.

The NCOC also approved on Wednesday the use of antigen testing for Covid-19 in addition to the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests being carried out in the country, Minister Asad Umar said.

In a tweet, the minister said the move was a part of a strategy to increase the level of testing in the country. He said that symptomatic cases would all still be administered PCR tests, adding that the decision was in line with the guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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