The numbers: As of Saturday evening, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Pakistan is 332,993. Over the past 24 hours, 807 cases have been registered. In total, there have been 6,806 deaths due to the virus, and 314,066 patients have recovered. As fears of a second wave spread, Sindh has reported a total of 145,475 cases, while Punjab has reported 104,016 cases. The tally has reached 39,458 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 15,896 in Balochistan, and 19,818 in the Islamabad Capital Territory. Meanwhile, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir have 4,248 and 4,082 cases respectively.
Second wave: With the rapid spread of the virus, the suspicions of a second wave of the pandemic have been realized. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan reported that while the number of cases being reported daily in Pakistan had gone down to 400 to 500 a few weeks ago, the frequency has gone up to 700 to 750 cases per day. An increase in the death rate has also been increased while the positivity ratio has jumped to 2.75% which denotes a 40% increase. He explained that strict restrictions and precautionary measures will have to be put in place once again, in order to curb the spread of the virus. He hinted that the business timings that were in place before the lifting of nationwide lockdowns might be restored again and that fines will be imposed for violating coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs).
Implementation of SOPs: After continuous warnings of rising covid-19 cases across the country, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has made it compulsory for all citizens to wear a face mask when stepping out of their homes. All provincial authorities were also asked to ensure compliance with SOPs among their citizens. The NCOC also released a statement listing non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) such as strict enforcement of the compulsory mask-wearing rule especially in confined spaces such as indoor venues, public transport, bus and train stations, markets, and other crowded spots. The NPIs also included the implementation of broad-based smart lockdowns, closure of commercial activities by 10 pm, and amusement and public parks by 6 pm. The NPIs are to be implemented in cities and districts where the positivity rate exceeds two percent which includes Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Multan, Hyderabad, Gilgit-Baltistan, Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Peshawar, and Quetta. The government has also set up a hotline, which allows citizens to report violations of SOPs such as non-adherence to social distancing, wearing masks, and overcrowding.