NCC to decide on lockdown strategy today on easing or toughening up restrictions

ISLAMABAD: The National Coordination Committee (NCC) will hold an important meeting today (Monday) to determine whether or not the countrywide lockdown should be extended or relaxed, as coronavirus cases continue to surge across the country.

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The meeting, scheduled at 4:30pm, will be chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan and chief ministers of all the four provinces, federal ministers, chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the provincial health ministers will attend it.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza will give a briefing on the spread of the virus and the death rate across the country whereas the focal person on coronavirus, Dr Faisal Sultan, will provide a brief on the overall situation.

The meeting will discuss and formulate effective coronavirus prevention strategies and will review treatment provided to coronavirus affectees along with the availability of hospital beds, ventilators and other resources required by medical centres.

In this regard, NDMA officials will also provide a report on available masks and other medical equipment including the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) in Pakistan.

PM Imran will take the nation into confidence about the decisions taken during the meeting after it ends.

The NCC, in its last meeting on May 7, had decided to extend the lockdown till May 31. However, markets and shopping malls were opened for the public, with SOPs, on the directives of the Supreme Court.

A meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Saturday under Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar mulled over the country’s new “Living with the Pandemic” strategy to cope with coronavirus.

“The NCOC recommended that the educational institutions be closed till August as the summer season and pandemic would be at peak in July,” a statement from the government had read.

The meeting sought provinces’ feedback on “negative list” aiming to finalise the recommendations of opening some more sectors of the economy halted due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The forum insisted that the marriage halls should only be allowed with [a] limited number of guests, one dish and strict compliance of standard operating procedures (SOPs),” read the statement.

Moreover, Umar had directed the concerned authorities to calculate the economic impacts of the virus in the first quarter of the current calendar year.

The meeting was also apprised about the critical care resources that needed to be increased owing to the surging risk of the pandemic.

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