Tighter restrictions on public activities as second coronavirus wave sweeps Pakistan

Men wearing protective masks walk along a market amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Karachi on Oct. 14, 2020. (REUTERS/File)
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Updated 29 October 2020

Tighter restrictions on public activities as second coronavirus wave sweeps Pakistan

  • Planning minister says coronavirus positivity ratio had crossed three percent for the first time after over 70 days
  • Says virus spread could be curbed only if people “believe in the need for precautions”

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), which leads coronavirus mitigation efforts across the country, announced that all business centers, wedding halls, restaurants and shopping malls would shut by 10p.m. from Thursday to curb the spread of the coronavirus, state run Radio Pakistan said.

The NCOC’s decision comes two days after Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Dr. Faisal Sultan, formally announced a second wave of the coronavirus in Pakistan, warning that imposing restrictions once again had become “inevitable.”

According to a government portal, 331,108 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Pakistan so far, and there have been 6,775 deaths.

“Essential services such as medical stores, clinics and hospitals will remain open and public parks have been asked to shut down by 6pm,” the NCOC said. 
Pakistan’s minister for planning Asad Umar, who also oversees the country’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts, said on Twitter that the national coronavirus positivity ratio had crossed three percent for the first time after over 70 days on Wednesday.

“NCOC has tightened restrictions on some high risk public activities,” Umar said. “However, the rising spread of the disease can only be controlled if people believe in the need for precautions

On Wednesday Pakistan announced that wearing masks in public places would now be mandatory and directed provincial government to ensure that masks were worn “particularly [in] bazaars, shopping malls, public transport and restaurants.”

“80 percent disease spread and increase positivity ratio in 11 major cities across Pakistan,” a statement from the NCOC statement said.

Local media reported that 4,374 lockdowns had been imposed in 11 cities, including Quetta, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan, Peshawar, Islamabad, Hyderabad, Mirpur, Karachi, Gilgit and Muzaffarabad.

Islamabad’s Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Hamza Shafqaat also issued a notification on Wednesday imposing Section 144 in the federal capital for two months and announcing that anyone visiting a public place without a face mask could be arrested.

In August, the government announced that virtually all sectors in Pakistan shut down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus would be reopened that month, other than schools and marriage halls, which opened in September. Since then, there has been a slow uptick in infection numbers.

South Africa Tests mark ‘monumental moment’ for Pakistan cricket 

Updated 24 January 2021

South Africa Tests mark ‘monumental moment’ for Pakistan cricket 

  • A tight security cordon has been thrown around the venue 
  • Foreign teams refused to tour Pakistan on security fears, following a terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team's bus in Lahore in 2009 

KARACHI: South Africa will play their first Test in Pakistan for 14 years this week, a match being described as a "monumental moment" for the revival of international cricket in the country.
The match in the port city of Karachi starting Tuesday marks a significant vote of confidence for Pakistan where international cricket was suspended following a terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team's bus in Lahore in 2009.
Foreign teams refused to tour the terror-hit country on security fears and it was only in the last six years that Pakistan hosted limited-over series before Test cricket was revived for the first time in a decade with the visit of Sri Lanka in December 2019.
A tight security cordon has been thrown around the venue and Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive Wasim Khan said South Africa's visit was significant.
"These are very exciting times for fans and supporters," said Khan.
"I would say that it's a monumental moment that South Africa is here after 14 years and everybody is looking forward to the matches."
England have also agreed to play two Twenty20s in October on their first trip to Pakistan since 2005, to be followed by New Zealand and the West Indies for white-ball series.
If all go untroubled, then Australia will arrive for Tests and one-day matches next year, having not toured Pakistan since 1998.
"We have an exciting year ahead of us as our efforts are bearing fruit," said Khan, a former England county player and ex-chief executive of Leicestershire.
On the field a dominant South Africa -- having won 15 of the 26 Tests between the two teams with four losses and seven draws -- will take on a new-look Pakistan with Babar Azam making his Test captaincy debut.
It will be a dream come true for Azam, who was a ball boy during South Africa's last tour in 2007, but he faces a task to lift Pakistan after being swept 2-0 in Tests in New Zealand in the past month.
Azam is back to full fitness after missing the New Zealand tour with a fractured thumb and leads an inexperienced 20-man squad with nine players yet to play a Test.
One of the uncapped spinners, Nauman Ali and Sajid Khan, is expected to win their first cap partnering seasoned leg-spinner Yasir Shah.
South Africa captain Quinton De Kock, whose team blanked Sri Lanka 2-0 at home in their recent series, said he expects spin to be a big factor.
"Those selections say a lot about where they want to go and how they want to prepare these wickets," said De Kock, who has left-armer Keshav Maharaj as his frontline spinner.
De Kock cautioned that none of his squad have played in Pakistan before.
"Our biggest challenge would be the conditions that we could face because they are unknown to us," he said.
Head coach Mark Boucher did tour Pakistan as a player three times -- 1997, 2003 and 2007.
"I think Mark Boucher and one or two other guys who have played here would keep us updated and guide us," said De Kock.
The second Test is in Rawalpindi from February 4-8 followed by three Twenty20 internationals in Lahore on February 11, 13 and 14.
The coronavirus pandemic means all the matches will be played without fans in attendance.