NCOC Reduces Business Hours, Mandates Face Masks As COVID Cases Surge

The consistent increase in positivity percentage and disease prevalence during the last two weeks has forced the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) to revert to old business hours imposed during the lockdown.

Under the new rules, the markets, shopping malls, marriage halls, and restaurants across the country will be closed by 10 pm. The hospitals, clinics, and medical stores are exempted.

In its new coronavirus Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), the NCOC has mandated to wear face masks in public places across the country from tomorrow [Thursday].


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In this regard, NCOC has directed all provinces to mobilize district administrations to ensure compliance with the latest order and other previously issued COVID-19 SOPs.

The forum directed the provinces to ensure wearing face masks and other standard operating procedures (SOPs) against Covid-19, particularly in markets, shopping malls, public transport, and restaurants.

Last week, NCOC had warned to shut down different high-risk sectors once again amid the rising number of coronavirus cases. It declared the transport sector, markets, marriage halls, restaurants, and public gatherings as high-risk areas.

Currently, 4,374 localities are under micro-lockdown in Quetta, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan, Peshawar, Islamabad, Hyderabad, Mirpur, Gilgit, Muzaffarabad, and Karachi as part of the smart lockdown strategy to curb the transmission of Coronavirus.


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In its second statement released later in the day, the NCOC listed non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPIs) to be implemented in cities and districts with a positivity rate above two percent. The above-mentioned cities fall into this category.

The NPIs are as follows:

  • Implementation of macro smart lockdowns in virus hotspots
  • Closure of commercial activities by 10 pm
  • Closure of amusement and public parks by 6 pm
  • Strict enforcement of ‘compulsory mask wearing’ rule in confined spaces including indoor venues, public transport, bus and train stations, markets, and other crowded spots


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Furthermore, the command center has also approved the use of antigen testing along with the PCR tests. Planning Minister Asad Umar, who also oversees Pakistan’s’ response to COVID-19, said that the move will help them ramp up testing.

NCOC today approved the use of anti gen testing, in addition to the PCR tests being carried out. This is part of strategy to increase the level of testing. The symptomatic cases will all still be administered PCR tests. The decision is in line with the guidelines issued by WHO

— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) October 28, 2020

He said that the decision is aligned with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines.

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