Umar Warns About Stricter Coronavirus Restrictions

On Thursday, Asad Umar, the Federal Minister for Planning, warned the citizens of the country that stricter coronavirus restrictions may be imposed. This announcement of his came against the backdrop of several major instances of non-compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs)


The minister took to Twitter, the micro-blogging site, to observe that there has been a sharp rise in the positivity of the infection in the past couple of days. He also noted that daily admissions in hospitals, as well as the number of people in critical condition, have increased. 


He further urged the citizens of the country to be wary of the new strain of the virus from UK. He revealed that it is deadlier and more contagious than the one from Wuhan.


In the past 24 hours, Pakistan has recorded a total of 3,495 new cases of the virus, which is the highest number in this year. The tally for the disease now stands at 607,453. 


As per the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), the death toll in the country surpassed 13,000 after 61 people lost their lives to the virus in the last 24 hours alone. Majority of these reported deaths occurred in the province of Punjab, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.


On the other hand, 1,634 patients in total recovered from the virus the previous day, which has taken the number of recoveries to 577,501.


The NCOC further informed that as of now, there are 24,592 active cases of the novel coronavirus in the country. 


Of the total 3,495 new infections, Punjab reported 1,824 cases. It was followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 624 cases and Sindh with 384 cases. 103 cases were reported in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and 22 in Balochistan. The capital city of the country alone had more than 500 cases in a day.


Further data from the NCOC revealed that from the 61 deaths reported in the past 24 hours, 43 were of people in Punjab, nine from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one from Sindh, and six from AJK. Two deaths were reported in the capital whereas, no one died in the province of Balochistan.


Just a day earlier, the Commerce Division had announced that it would be coming up with a plan to eliminate duty exemptions on material and machinery related to imports of the coronavirus. This was announced shortly after the Chinese government gifted 500,000 doses of the vaccine to the country. 


A senior official of the Commerce Ministry also added that it had been given the responsibility of removing exemptions on material related to coronavirus imports. This task was delegated to ensure the protection of the local industry. 


Right now, the local industry is producing coronavirus related material and equipment, which requires it to pay a general sales tax of 17%. The local products had become uncompetitive due to the zero-duty regime being imposed on the imports of coronavirus related machinery.


The government of Pakistan had provided exemptions to 61 personal protective equipment (PPEs) and diagnostic support from all taxes and duties in March of last year. 


Therefore, the local industry began to manufacture the equipment and informed the cabinet of these developments. In addition, the Cabinet Minister called for funds for the purpose of coronavirus.