ISLAMABAD: In view of a surge in coronavirus cases during the second wave of the viral disease in the country, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Friday issued new guidelines banning indoor marriages, fixing Rs100 as fine for not wearing mask and allowing “work from home” for 50 per cent staff of public and private institutions.

A senior official of the NCOC told Dawn that the provinces had been asked to implement the new guidelines under their own modus operandi.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the NCOC attended by representatives of the Centre and the provinces.

Under the new guidelines, wearing of mask and ‘work from home’ policy have been made compulsory throughout the country from Saturday (today), while the ban on indoor marriages will be enforced from Nov 20.

The NCOC observed that since 16 major cities of the country were highly sensitive these days due to Covoid-19 positivity among the people, the “non-pharmaceutical interventions” (NPIs) or new guidelines would remain in force till January 2021.

The cities with high positivity and higher disease spread potential are: Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Multan, Hyderabad, Gilgit, Muzzafarabad, Mirpur, Peshawar, Quetta, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur and Abbottabad.

The NCOC official said a model for enforcement of mask wearing was being implemented under which those fined Rs100 for not wearing mask would be given three masks on the spot. “In fact it is not a fine; the money to be received as fine will be utilised to buy mask for the violator so that he/she can wear mask at the spot,” he added.

About the ban on indoor marriages, the official said only outdoor marriages would be allowed with upper limit of 1000 persons. “The ban will be enforced with effect from Nov 20 so that already arranged marriages at indoor venues can take place,” he added.

He said that 50pc of the staff in all public and private offices would be allowed to work from their homes as the offices could only accommodate 50pc staff.

Meanwhile, the provinces have been asked to follow the policy of smart lockdowns based on hotspot areas (where cases of Covod-19 will be reported).

Covid-19 cases

Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir collectively reported 366 coronavirus cases and five deaths during the last 24 hours. Islamabad witnessed 273 cases and two deaths, Gilgit-Baltistan 12 cases and AJK 81 cases and three deaths.

Similarly, Punjab reported 321 cases with five deaths during the last 24 hours. The province’s tally of cases has risen to 105,856 and deaths to 2,390.

On Thursday, 556 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Sindh, the highest daily jump in the infections since July 29, when the province registered 654 cases. Its cases tally now stands at 148,343. The province also recorded 17 deaths during the past 24 hours, a three-month record.

The last time Sindh had more deaths was on July 30. The provincial death toll has risen to 2,664.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2020

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