New coronavirus rules for wedding halls, markets, shopping malls in Pakistan issued

A wedding hall in Pakistan, adorned b chandeliers and decorations on table. Photo: file

ISLAMABAD: Markets, shopping malls and wedding halls across Pakistan will be closed by 10pm and wearing masks has been made mandatory from tomorrow (Thursday).

The NCOC issued a new set of directives, fearing a second wave of the novel coronavirus. In recent days, the COVID-19 positivity rate and number of deaths due to the virus have increased.

The NCOC has directed restaurants to close by 10pm whereas public parks and recreational places will not be allowed to remain open after 6pm. The apex body tasked to combat coronavirus further said that wearing masks has been made mandatory for people across the country from tomorrow.

The NCOC said that authorities will ensure implementation of smart lockdowns across areas identified as coronavirus hotspots. Medical stores, clinics and hospitals will not be bound to obey the above-stated rules as they provide essential services.

Earlier today, NCOC Chairperson Asad Umar had announced that the government had approved antigen testing in addition to the PCR tests currently being used throughout the country.

“This is part of strategy to increase the level of testing. The symptomatic cases will all still be administered PCR tests,” the minister had said. He added that the decision is in line with the guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

What is antigen testing?

According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antigen tests are “commonly used in the diagnosis of respiratory pathogens, including influenza viruses and respiratory syncytial virus”.

“Antigen tests are immunoassays that detect the presence of a specific viral antigen, which implies current viral infection,” says the CDC.

The CDC also said that the antigen tests can be used for screening testing in high-risk settings. It said that by carrying out repeat testing the test could quickly identify persons with coronavirus infection, leading authorities to take measures to control the virus and prevent transmission.

Strict coronavirus restrictions inevitable: SAPM health

On Tuesday, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said that strict coronavirus restrictions are inevitable given the rise in COVID-19 deaths and the positivity ratio across Pakistan.

The premier’s aide said that a few weeks ago, 400-500 cases were being reported across the country daily. The tally, he said, had shot up to 700-750 cases of the infection per day.

“The Coronavirus death rate has increased in the country,” he said, adding that that the positivity ratio had surged to 2.5-2.75%.

Dr Faisal said that the masses were not adhering to coronavirus precautions as they should, given the pandemic was still far from over.

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