• Cabinet Division orders 50pc attendance in offices • People in 31-45 age group emerge as more vulnerable to coronavirus
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan saw a significant rise in the number of daily Covid-19 cases on Friday after 2,304 people tested positive during the last 24 hours, the highest tally since July.
In a related development, the Cabinet Division issued a notification detailing measures to be taken in government offices in the wake of growing number of cases.
Friday’s count was a 27 per cent increase from the previous day’s figure of 1,808. The deadly virus claimed 37 lives across the country in the last 24 hours.
One of the casualties was MPA from Sindh Jam Madad Ali who reportedly died of complications from Covid-19.
The 58-year-old PPP leader had tested positive 15 days ago and was admitted to a private hospital in Karachi for treatment.
Another parliamentarian and former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf also contracted the virus.
This was confirmed by the senior PPP leader’s son in a statement. He said his father had suspended all political activities and sought prayers from party workers and supporters for his recovery.
According to the National Command and Operation Centre, Islamabad, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan have collectively reported 462 coronavirus cases and four deaths during the last 24 hours.
As many as 357 people tested positive and five died in Islamabad while Azad Kashmir saw 98 cases and two deaths. Gilgit-Baltistan reported seven new cases.
On the other hand, 601 more people in Punjab were infected by the virus while 17 died. The number of cases in the province has reached 108,822 with the death toll standing at 2,455.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan have collectively reported 262 coronavirus cases and two deaths.
In KP, 214 people were infected with one life lost. As a result the provincial tally of cases has risen to 41,471 with 1,303 deaths.
In Balochistan, 48 new cases were detected which took the count to 16,274. The death toll rose to 155 after another person fell victim to Covid-19.
Sindh has reported 822 positive cases after which the total number of infected people has been recorded at 153,874.
According to the daily statement issued by the Chief Minister House, four more people succumbed to the virus in Sindh, taking the overall death tally to 2,722.
The statement said 10,614 samples were tested in the last 24 hours in the province out of which results of 822 people came back positive. The positivity rate was recorded at 7.7 per cent.
Cabinet Division notification
The Cabinet Division issued a notification under which 50 per cent staff would have to work from home.
The notification said additional secretary-I and II could decide about the attendance of their respective joint secretaries on rotation basis. However, those joint secretaries not attending office would work from home and not leave the station.
Similarly, joint secretaries may take a decision about the 50 per cent attendance of their respective deputy secretaries and section officers on rotation basis.
The officers working from home may depute one official in their office to handle the files and remain available on phone.
The notification said it was mandatory for all officers and other employees to wear masks. Any officer or official feeling sick or showing virus symptoms will immediately inform their respective head to seek approval for isolation.
Files shall be processed through e-filing while handling of hard files should be avoided. In case a hard file needs to be carried, the staff should ensure they are sanitised. Inter-office meetings or discussions shall preferably be done through video conferencing or over the phone. If meetings are considered very necessary, seats should be arranged in a way that a distance of at least one metre is ensured between them.
No visitor will be allowed to visit the office without prior permission of the relevant officer, communicated to the reception desk by the respective officer.
The staff would also ensure sanitisation of the officers’ room, table and chairs and avoid handshakes or close contact.
The notification also directed that the office premises should be sanitised twice daily.
Young people more vulnerable
According to a study compiled by the Punjab government, people in the age bracket of 31-45 were more vulnerable to the virus which was followed by those falling in the age group of 16-30.
The latest study has contradicted the earlier reports that the younger generation was less vulnerable to coronavirus.
One of the reasons for high prevalence of the virus among people of these age groups was their involvement in outdoor activities.
A senior health department official said most people in these age groups attended educational institutions, did jobs or ran businesses. As a result, they were exposed to their colleagues and fellow students and also did not adopt any preventive measure. Being asymptomatic, they transmit virus to their elderly family members or multiply positive cases in utter ignorance.
The official said such people should therefore take extraordinary precautions by wearing masks and reducing their outdoor activities.
Statistics show that out of the total confirmed cases in Punjab, 32,060 people were in the 31-45 age group while 29,849 were from other age brackets.
Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2020