The positivity rate of coronavirus tests in Peshawar has exceeded 19 percent and is the highest in the country; the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) was told on Friday. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa capital has a positivity rate of 19.65pc, the forum was told in a meeting today. Peshawar is followed by Karachi, where the positivity rate stands 17.73pc. In Hyderabad, 16.32pc of the Covid-19 tests are turning out to be positive; the NCOC was told, making it the city with the third-highest positivity rate in the country.

Among provinces and federation units, Sindh has the highest positivity rate of 13.25pc; while Azad Jammu and Kashmir stands on the second spot with a ratio of 10.79pc. Punjab has a positivity rate of 3.59pc — the lowest in the country.

Meanwhile, KP’s positivity rate is 9.25pc while Balochistan has 6.41pc. Islamabad and Gilgit-Baltistan have a positivity rate of 5.84pc and 4.81pc respectively.

At the national level, the positivity rate stands at 7.2pc, health experts informed the meeting’s participants. In Pakistan, the maximum positivity rate had reached 23pc in June when it had increased from 6pc in May; while the positivity rate was brought down to 1.7pc in September.

Furthermore, the number of critical Covid-19 patients across the country is increasing at a fast pace; the NCOC was told today. Currently, 2,112 patients are in critical condition across Pakistan. “Continuous monitoring and anticipation of likely pattern/disease prevalence is most important as only this will help us [come up with the] required response for [stopping the spread of] Covid,” said NCOC Chairperson Asad Umar.

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) for follow up

The meeting, which was attended by provincial chief secretaries via video link, was also told that meetings had been held with religious scholars and marriage hall associations to ensure the implementation of standard operating procedures in mosques and wedding halls. The NCOC lauded efforts of the ulema for ensuring that SOPs were being followed in mosques and spreading awareness about the virus among the masses.

Umar, who is also the federal planning minister, said that the health ministry should issue guidelines and directions to follow SOPs as laid out by the government in order to ensure public health and safety.

Cases in Pakistan are increasing rapidly, with the country reporting more than 3,000 cases for the past three days. Earlier this week, the NCOC was informed that hospitalizations due to the novel coronavirus had doubled in the past two weeks.