LAHORE: Punjab’s districts with over 12 per cent positivity rate would go under “effective” lockdowns from Thursday, said Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, as he announced on Monday a set of new Covid-19 restrictions to control the rapidly rising infections in the province.
Under the new guidelines, there would be a ban on all kinds of indoor and outdoor programmes including weddings and cultural and sports activities, while public transport would also remain closed, he said, adding markets would also close at 6pm. “We have decided to impose an effective lockdown in districts with over 12 per cent Covid-19 positivity rate from April 1, which would continue until April 11, Buzdar told the media after chairing a high-level meeting to take stock of the Covid-19 situation in the province.
Buzdar, however, clarified the effective lockdown did not mean “we are closing down everything”. “We are not imposing any ban on business and industrial activities,” he added. The chief minister said restaurants would be allowed to offer only takeaway services. “We are facing a third Covid wave that is far more dangerous,” he warned. He urged the public to wear face masks at public places and warned of legal action over non-compliance. He said a total of 126 vaccination centres had been set up across the province.
The Punjab government’s latest measures come as the third wave of coronavirus continues to worsen in the country with positivity rate jumping past 11 per cent on Monday. The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) reported that 40,369 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours, out of which 4,525 turned out positive, taking the national positivity ratio to 11.21 per cent. The new cases took the countrywide tally of positive Covid-19 cases to 659,116. Out of those, 264,889 cases have been reported in Sindh, 215,227 in Punjab, 85,531 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 56,450 in the federal capital, 19,525 in Balochistan, 12,484 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and 5,010 in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB).
The total active Covid-19 cases in Pakistan stand at 46,663 while 598,197 have recovered from the virus. The country reported 41 deaths to the coronavirus in the last 24 hours with the most fatalities occurring in KP. The new deaths took the countrywide fatality toll to 14,256. Among them, 6,246 patients died in Punjab, 4,491 in Sindh, 2,301 in KP, 561 in Islamabad, 206 in Balochistan, 348 in AJK and 103 in GB.
Meanwhile, the NCOC on Monday identified 19 districts that have a high positivity ratio. The identified districts were Swat (23 per cent), Peshawar (22 per cent), Nowshehra (19 per cent), Lahore (17 per cent), Rawalpindi (15 per cent), Faisalabad (15 per cent), Sargodha (12 per cent), Sialkot (12 per cent), Malakand (12 per cent), Swabi (12 per cent), Multan (12 per cent), Mandi Bahauddin (11 per cent), Gujranwala (10 per cent), Okara (9 per cent), Rahim Yar Khan (9 per cent), Toba Tek Singh (9 per cent), Bahawalpur (8 per cent), Dir Lower (8 per cent) and Gujrat (7 per cent).