Teachers sanitise the hands of students before allowing them into classrooms in Rawalpindi.
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
The Pakistan’s National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) has issued fresh restrictions in a bid to control the rapidly increasing second wave of coronavirus infections across the country.
The NCOC has recommended early and extended winter vacations for students amid a rise in the COVID-19 positivity ratio at educational institutions.
The NCOC has also recommended limiting all public gatherings to 500 people, including cultural, political, religious, entertainment, and civil gatherings.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved specific funding for the advance purchase of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a statement released by the Ministry of National Health Services Regulation on Thursday.
The health ministry, in a statement, said Imran has shown special interest in ensuring quality vaccines at the earliest and has approved specific funding in this regard.
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The ministry said the government has developed a COVID-19 vaccine strategy in response to global best practices.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health, Dr Faisal Sultan, while talking in ARY News programme “Powerplay” had confirmed that PM had approved funds to purchase the possible vaccines of COVID-19 in advance.
A meeting, chaired by Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, was told that the virus increased three-folds since the NCOC recommended banning large public gatherings and outdoor activities on Oct.12 and Nov.3 to the National Coordination Committee (NCC) for its final decision. "However, consensus by all stakeholders is awaited," read a statement.
The body has suggested notifying early and extending winter vacations to federal and provincial education departments, keeping in view the rising positivity rate in educational institutions.
The body decided that on Nov.16, Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood will chair a special meeting at the NCOC to assess and review the positivity rate in educational institutions. Provincial education ministers will also be taken on board, the statement said. It added that the recommendations decided upon would be shared with the provinces for decision-making and enforcement.
The forum recommended allowing only outdoor dining till 10pm and closing cinemas and theatres immediately. Shrines will also be temporarily closed with immediate effect. Only outdoor weddings with a capacity of 500 people will be allowed from Nov.20.
Appreciating COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) compliance in mosques, the NCOC noted a "decline in compliance at present and appealed to all stakeholders to further follow the same rather enhance amid possible second wave."
The Punjab government is keeping a close eye on coronavirus cases in the schools, Minister Murad Raas said adding that random testing was being conducted and a slight increase in numbers has been observed.
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Students aged 12 years and above who plan to physically attend school next term are required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result prior to attending face-to-face classes.
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