ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Saturday sought provinces’ feedback on negative list aiming to finalise the recommendations of opening some more sectors of the economy halted due to COVID-19 outbreak.
A meeting chaired by Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar was held at the NCOC to discuss the long and short term strategy on COVID-19 titled “Living with the Pandemic”. The NCOC recommended that the educational institutions should be kept closed till August as the summer season and pandemic would be at its peak on July 15.
The meeting was attended by Interior Minister Brig (R) Syed Ejaz Ahmad Shah, Minister for National Food Security and Research Fakhar Imam, Minister for Economic Affairs Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, SAPM for Information and Broadcasting and Chairman China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority Lt. Gen (R) Asim Saleem Bajwa, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Dr Moeed Yousaf, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Digital Pakistan Tania Aidrus.
The Forum emphasised the need to revise its communication strategy for better messaging and public outreach on the COVID-19 issue. Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar said that the restaurants under the negative list would have to completely close their services or partially initiate its functions with only take away services. The forum insisted that the marriage halls should only be allowed with limited number of guests, one dish and strict compliance of standard operating procedures (SOPs). Asad Umar directed the concerned authorities to calculate economic impacts of COVID-19 in the first quarter of current calendar year.
The NCOC stressed that capacity building and restructuring of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination should be done as per approval by the federal cabinet.
The forum was also apprised that the critical care resources would be increased owing to the surging risk of the pandemic. The forum was told that the testing capacity of COVID-19 was being increased to 672,000 tests. Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Khusroo Bakhtiar said that National Integrated Management System should be put in place for better coordination between the federal and the provinces. Dr Zafar Mirza said that although wearing of masks was mandatory, no punitive action was being taken against the violators.