People arrive on the top of a restaurant on Margalla Hills in Islamabad on Monday. AFP
Tariq Butt / Associated Press
Pakistan lifted even the targeted lockdown due to drastic fall in the number of COVID-19 patients and deaths on Monday.
The government announced an end to the state of coronavirus emergency. Tourism is limping back to normality after a hiatus of five months.
Meanwhile, the incoming president of the United Nations General Assembly has praised Pakistan for quickly containing the coronavirus, saying the South Asian nation’s handling of the pandemic is a good example for the world.
The Turkish diplomat Volkan Bozkir made his comment on Monday at a news conference in the capital, Islamabad.
Bozkir was recently elected as the president of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly.
Volkan Bozkir and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi give a joint press conference in Islamabad. AP
Upon his arrival in Islamabad, he met Prime Minister Imran Khan, who wants international financial institutions and rich nations to give a debt relief to poor countries whose economies have badly been affected by the new virus.
Bozkir’s visit comes amid a steady decline in COVID-19 deaths and infections in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s coronavirus recovery rate has surpassed 91% with official data showing that 260,764 patients have recovered from the disease so far against the total number of 285,016 cases confirmed since the outbreak.
People eat at a restaurant following an ease in restrictions in Karachi. AP
According to the government’s COVID-19 portal, 634 more people recovered in the last 24 hours while 791 patients are in critical condition.
Pakistan on Monday reported 15 fatalities from coronavirus in the past 24 hours, raising its total COVID-19-related fatalities to 6,107.
Tourist destinations all over Pakistan slowly started reopening and gearing to welcome visitors under safety measures outlined by the government. The step has been taken to revive an economy buckled under the weight of coronavirus pandemic.
Cultural spots have also begun to reopen their doors with fewer crowds and new rules with a large number of visitors seen wearing protective masks. A number of tourists quickly flocked to Naran, Kaghan, Nathiagali, Murree, Kumrat, Swat, and other tourist destinations in the Hazara division where the police along with officials of health departments were on the road to facilitate the guests.
People eat at a rooftop restaurant on Margalla Hills in Islamabad. AFP
However, a group of youngsters in Murree regretted that a large number of people flocked to popular tourist sites and major cities despite warnings from health authorities that the risk posed by the coronavirus pandemic remained far from over.
Many restaurants have started doing a brisk trade. The health department in a notification has directed visitors to use sanitisers while visiting parks, museums, historical and other places to avoid contracting COVID-19. People should prefer online booking of rooms and tickets to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus.
The Punjab government has announced reopening of cinemas and theatres with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department issued the SOPs on the recommendation of the Technical Working Group, which will come into effect from Monday.
The SOPs for cinemas and theatres include ensuring hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, social distancing, cleanliness, and disinfection of the premises. The SOPs also include checking the health status and Covid-19 awareness activities.
The managements of cinemas/theatres would adopt “no-mask, no-entry” policy and limit the hall occupancy to 40 per cent of the total capacity. They will offer shows of shorter duration from 40 minutes to 60 minutes, while inter-show interval duration should be at least of 60 minutes to ensure proper cleanliness, disinfection, and ventilation.
An official of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on COVID-19 said 115,415 coronavirus patients had recovered in Sindh, 86,266 in Punjab, 31,612 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 12,914 in Islamabad, 10,326 in Balochistan, 1,902 in Gilgit-Baltistan and 1,883 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. He added 23,390 tests were conducted in the country in the last 24 hours.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said 303 coronavirus cases and 10 deaths were reported in the province during the past 24 hours.
He added that 8,288 tests were carried out. The provincial total has increased to 123,849 with the new cases and the death toll has hit 2,272. Currently, there are 5,836 patients under treatment in the province.
RT-PCR tests of passengers from countries that have been placed in category A are not required . For passengers travelling from category C countries, a negative test is mandatory before travelling to Pakistan while a second test will be done upon arrival.
The cable car would have car parking facilities on both the stations whereas it will have an intermediate station as well with restaurant and other allied facilities. The feasibility study of the project will be completed in five to six months.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday defended his government's response to the coronavirus crisis, saying there has been no confusion or contradiction in his policies since the start of the pandemic.
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