The Second wave of Covid-19 Spreads Across Pakistan, Wearing Mask Made Obligatory

On Wednesday, after giving out multiple warnings about the rise of Covid-19 cases all across the country once again, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) announced that it has been made mandatory for all citizens to put on face masks when going out of the home. 

The command came as the total number of the country’s active cases exceeded the 11,000 mark on Tuesday. Dr. Faisal Sultan, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on health, then declared that the second wave of the fatal Coronavirus is at large. 

Asad Umar, Planning and Development Minister, presided over the NCOC meeting on Wednesday in which it was decided over that both the private sector and government offices will have to make wearing face mask mandatory. 

In a tweet, later on, Asad Umar said that along with PCR tests that are already being carried out, the NCOC has permitted using antigen testing. 

The tweet stated that this approval was made to increase the testing level and that the decision was in accordance with the guidelines that the World Health Organization has provided. 

A statement released by the NCOC said that all provinces have been directed to make sure that citizens follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) strictly and wear a face mask, specifically in public transport, shopping malls, restaurants, and bazaars. 

Later in the day, NCOC issued another statement listing all the non-pharmaceutical preventions (NPIs) to be implemented in cities with more than 2 percent positivity rate. Among the cities exceeding a two percent rate of positive Coronavirus cases were Quetta, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Mirpur, Karachi, Muzzafarabad, Hyderabad, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, and Gilgit-Baltistan, according to the statement. 

Included in the NPIs are:

Commercial activities to be closed down by 10 pm

Amusement and public parks to shut doors by 8 pm

Smart lockdowns to be implemented in the areas have been declared hotspots

Wearing face mask to be made compulsory, especially in confined places including marketplaces, indoor venues, public transports, and other crowded areas. 

Right after the decision by the NCOC was announced, the district magistrate of Islamabad enforced Criminal Procedure Code’s (CrPC) section 144 for two months to ensure that masses wear face masks in public places. 

Hamza Shafqaat, Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad, tweeted that police have the orders to arrest on the spot anyone found not wearing a face mask in a public place. 

Prime Minister Imran Khan, while speaking with a doctors’ convention on Wednesday, also stressed upon the SOPs and their implementation and asked the nation to follow health precautions especially in the coming next two months as a second wave of the deadly Coronavirus is being expected across the country.