A meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) is informed today that news cases due to Covid-19 in Pakistan have doubled in the last two weeks while the positivity ratio had increased to 7.46 per cent in the last 24 hours.

According to the government’s database for tracking the spread of coronavirus in the country, 2,756 cases were confirmed on Nov 3, resulting in a positivity rate of 7.46pc.

The NCOC was informed that Azad Jammu and Kashmir has the highest Covid-19 positivity rate at 11.45pc, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at 9.85pc, Sindh at 9.63pc, Balochistan at 7.73pc and Gilgit-Baltistan at 5.23pc. Punjab has the lowest positivity rate in the country at 3.95pc.

According to the statement, the NCOC was also told that the number of infections had risen in several cities in Pakistan, including Rawalpindi, Multan, Lahore and Faisalabad in Punjab; Karachi and Hyderabad in Sindh; Peshawar, Abbottabad and Swat in KP; Mirpur in AJK; Gilgit and Islamabad.

There had also been an increase in the number of infections reported at educational institutions across the country, with 19pc of total Covid-19 cases being recorded among students. The positivity ratio in educational institutions rose from 1.8pc to 3.3pc during the last week — an increase of 82pc.

Earlier this month, the countrywide positivity rate of Covid-19 cases again surpassed five per cent after a gap of over three months. In Pakistan, the maximum positivity rate had reached 23pc in June as it had increased from 6pc in May, while the positivity rate was brought down to 1.7pc in September.

The NCOC meeting, which is being chaired by Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, is also deliberating on decisions regarding educational institutions, according to the statement. Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood is also participating in the meeting.

Meanwhile, the country’s education ministers are also meeting today to take a final decision on extended winter vacation as the number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise. Sources in the education ministry said the decision would be made after reviewing the situation, adding that the federal ministry would plead for announcing extended winter vacation from Nov 24 to Jan 31.

The ministry also suggested teaching students online during the holidays and through Tele-School, e-Taleem and Radio School. The officials said the meeting would also take up a second option whereby a limited number of students would attend schools, adding that under this plan, primary grade students would stop attending school from Nov 24.

PDM deliberately endangering lives

A day earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan lashed out at the PDM for “deliberately endangering lives [and] livelihoods” by going ahead with their rallies despite a rise in the number of coronavirus cases.

In a series of tweets, the premier said that several major cities had seen a drastic increase in the number of virus patients on ventilators. “Increase in Covid patients on ventilators in last 15 days: Peshawar 200 per cent, Multan 200pc, Karachi 148pc, Lahore 114pc, Islamabad 65pc. Multan & Is(lamabad) Covid ventilators capacity utilisation 70pc.”

He said that countries around the world were enforcing “complete lockdowns” amid a second spike in infections, warning that the PDM was “deliberately endangering lives and livelihoods” because the government in Pakistan too would have to impose a “complete lockdown” if cases continued to rise at the current rate.

“Opposition(PDM) is callously destroying people’s lives and livelihoods in their desperation to get an NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance). Let me make it clear: they can hold a million jalsas (rallies) but will not get any NRO,” he added.

The premier said he did not want to impose a lockdown which would hurt the economy, which he said was showing signs of “robust recovery“. “Unfortunately, the Opposition’s only goal is NRO at whatever cost to the lives of people [and] the country’s economy.”