Fresh restrictions

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THE Covid-19 infection and death rates are continuously showing an upward trend in the country raising alarm bells among policy-makers and Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is otherwise against curbs in view of their impact on the common man, announced fresh restrictions on Monday. Addressing the nation after a meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC), the Premier announced new restrictions on public events, including the suspension of his party’s political rallies, and stressed the implementation of mask-wearing and social distancing to control the spread of the virus.
The very fact that the Prime Minister had to address the nation on the issue should serve as an eye-opener for all those who are still not taking the threat seriously. One can imagine the level of threat from the latest figures released by the NCC, which say the total active COVID-19 cases in Pakistan on Monday were recorded 28,048, as 2,128 more people tested positive for the deadly virus during the last 24 hours. 19 corona patients, who were under treatment in hospital died on Sunday, which is indicative of a surge in death rate. Chief Justice of Peshawar High Court Justice Waqar Seth and a prominent journalist Arshad Waheed Chaudhry also lost their lives after contracting the deadly virus. Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, who is a strong advocate of implementation of SOPs and other Corona-related curbs, has also been infected with the virus besides senior PPP leader Sharjeel Memon. It is because of all this that the Prime Minister has urged citizens to strictly follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) to prevent the second wave of the coronavirus from wreaking havoc in the country, saying it was time for everyone to “act as a nation”. While stress has been laid on implementation of the SOPs in mosques, factories and shops, a decision about educational institutions will be taken next week. There is understandable opposition by owners of marriage halls to new restrictions and resistance of private schools to closure of the institutions as they opened after a long gap but we have no other choice but to religiously follow SOPs or shut down violating institutions. The Government also needs to work on improvement, upgradation and expansion of broadband services in the country as in the face of uncertain situation educational institutions will have to rely more on online teaching, which is not perfect at the moment and as a result students suffer a lot. The proposition to allow wedding ceremonies only under the open sky in winter is ridiculous but the option of limiting the guests is workable.