The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Monday observed that the Covid-19 positivity ratio is rapidly increasingly in major cities, with the rate exceeding 15 per cent in at least three cities across the country.

According to a press release issued by the NCOC, the forum held a morning session and discussed in length the recent surge in the positivity ratio.

“The overall nationwide positivity ratio is 4.5 percent [while] 15 major cities across the country have a higher ratio,” the statement said.

Hyderabad has the highest positivity ratio in Pakistan at 16.59pc, followed by Multan with 15.97pc, Gilgit with 15.38pc, Muzaffarabad with 14.12pc, Mirpur with 11.11pc, Peshawar with 9.69pc, Quetta with 8.03pc, Islamabad with 7.48pc, Karachi with 7.12pc, Lahore with 5.37pc and Rawalpindi with 4.63pc.

During the meeting, the chief secretaries of all the provinces updated the forum on administrative measures regarding fresh guidelines in cities with a high positivity ratio.

The forum was informed that 4,136 “micro small lockdowns” are in place across Pakistan. The “testing, tracing and quarantining” strategy is being used for disease control and prevention, the press release said. The NCOC was also told that recent curbs will remain in force till Jan 31, 2021.

The forum was also told that 2,811 oxygenated beds have been included to boost the capacity of hospitals while over 13,000 oxygen cylinders have been given to the provinces and federating units.

The forum appreciated the efforts of the provinces in taking prompt and necessary measures in line with health and safety guidelines.

A day earlier, the NCOC had issued additional guidelines for marriage ceremonies to contain the spread of the deadly virus.

According to the new guidelines, participants of wedding ceremonies will have to sit at least six feet apart.

The timings of the event have been restricted to two hours with 10pm as the cutoff time. All guests will have to wear face masks and the organisers of such events will have to display the seating/gathering capacity of their venues at the entrance. Moreover, the organisers will have to take precautionary measures against dengue fever.

Thermal scanning of all attendees at the entrance as well as face masks have been declared mandatory.Buffets have been banned and only lunch boxes and table service have been permitted. Event mangers will have to retain the names and contact details of those attending the wedding and staff for at least 15 days.The new guidelines, which have been prepared by the Health Services Academy, National institute of Health and Health Planning, Systems Strengthening and Information Analysis Unit, will be implemented from Novembers 20 in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Multan, Hyderabad, Gilgit, Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Peshawar, Quetta, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur and Swat.The draft of the guidelines, available with Dawn, states that public gatherings pose a potential risk for Covid-19 infection and community transmission.Therefore, wedding events during the epidemic should be organised while taking care of the precautions and standard operating procedures (SOPs) pertaining to gatherings to minimise the chances of the virus spreading.

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