Imran Khan speaks during a video message aired on TV channels.
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday appealed to the nation to avoid going to "super spreader" events such as weddings and places such as restaurants, as the country battles an intensifying third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
His comments came during a video message aired on television channels. "I exercised precaution for a whole year. I never went to any wedding or even to a restaurant to eat. I practiced social distancing and kept my mask on for the most part," the premier said, as he began his video message.
"So I was safe. I was among those who remained safe in the first two waves, he said. As the third wave of COVID-19 continued to rage across Pakistan, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) following a meeting held on Sunday announced that all kinds of gatherings, indoor as well as outdoor, have been banned with immediate effect.
This includes all social, cultural, political, sports and other events, the guidelines further stated. All kinds of political, cultural, sports and social gatherings are banned from Monday.
All weddings including outdoor or indoor are banned from April 5.
Pakistan has recorded more than 4,000 cases for a third straight day with 4,767 new coronavirus cases and 57 deaths in the last 24 hours.
Meanwhile, Lahore Commissioner Muhammad Usman has warned that those found without mask at a public place will be sent behind bars, as it has been decided in principle to ensure implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) to curb COVID-19 spread.
The order became effective on Sunday. "We are passing through peak time of the third wave of the coronavirus that is spreading very fast in Lahore in particular and other parts of Punjab in general.
Since many COVID-19 positive patients are being shifted to hospitals in Lahore on a daily basis, we have decided to ensure strict preventive measure to avert further spread of the virus,” Usman said.
"Therefore, we have decided to launch a crackdown from March 28 against all those not wearing masks, besides flouting other SOPs. Simply, we have been left with no option but to arrest all those found without masks on the city roads, markets, hospitals, parks, shops, malls etc,” he added.
Usman said the people in Lahore, in particular, are showing a very casual attitude regarding COVID-19 SOPs, including masks and ensuring social distancing while moving in the city, resulting in virus’ fast transmission.
"This time, all the public and private hospitals are packed with COVID-positive cases. And it means whosoever is coming to hospital is a serious patient needing oxygen or other emergency care. The number of positive cases not reporting to hospitals may probably be much higher than such patients,” he explained.
He said in such circumstances it had become necessary to make non-pharmaceutical interventions like lockdown, closure of schools and markets, making people wear masks and ensuring social distancing etc. Therefore, the decision to launch a crackdown on the violators of the Covid SOPs had been taken, he added.
"We are suspending international flight operations effective tonight at 8:00 pm (1500 GMT)," the prime minister's special assistant on national security.
Pakistan 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.
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