NCOC oversees Pakistan’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, on Wednesday warned that the country is fast approaching a point where there will be “no choice” left but to impose another sweeping lockdown.

Warning that there is an urgent and immediate need to ensure the implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for coronavirus prevention, the NCOC noted that there has been a clear resurgence in virus cases and deaths.

“NCOC is closely monitoring the situation. If there is no improvement in SOPs compliance observed, NCOC will have no choice but to revert to strict measures leading to re-closures of services,” read a statement issued by the body Wednesday afternoon.

The statement said the NCOC, during a special session held to monitor the increasing, had noted a “clear resurgence in coronavirus” and noted the rising death rate attributable to COVID-19.

The chief secretaries, who attended the meeting, were directed to “strictly implement” SOPs.

Also read: Govt bars public gatherings in cities with 6-9% positivity ratio

They were also directed to take “strict punitive actions” if a violation of the SOPs is observed.

It also directed officials to put a “special focus” on the perceived high-risk sectors of transport, markets, marriage halls, restaurants and public gatherings.

“Wearing of mask and social distancing must be ensured. Administrative actions be initiated against violators,” the NCOC told the chief secretaries.

140% increase in coronavirus mortality rate in Pakistan: Asad Umar
The statement by the NCOC comes a day after Minister for Planning Asad Umar said that the COVID-19 mortality rate in Pakistan has increased by 140% in the last week and warned the public against ignoring the safety protocols.

Asad Umar, who also spearheads the government’s COVID-19 response, said, “We are collectively committing a blunder by recklessly ignoring all SOPs and the results have started to show”.

The warning from the federal minister came a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan sounded alarm bells saying he feared a “second coronavirus spike” in cities such as Faisalabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Karachi, and Gujranwala, as the winter season approaches.

Asad Umar took to Twitter to highlight the deteriorating situation of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country and said if we do not change our current path we will lose both lives and livelihoods.

“Last week daily COVID-19 mortality was 12. This is a 140% increase vs few weeks back. We are collectively committing a blunder by recklessly ignoring all sop’s & the results have started to show. If we do not change our current path we will lose both lives and livelihoods,” he tweeted.

Govt hints at re-imposing lockdown
Last week, the minister had hinted that the government may have to reimpose lockdown in the country to curb the virus spread, which will have “negative effects” on the livelihoods of the people.

In a series of tweets on Thursday, Asad Umar had said the national positivity of COVID-19 cases was 2.37% a day earlier, which is the highest in more than 50 days.

These are the “unmistakable signs of the rise of corona” in Pakistan, he had noted.