Holiday season

NCOC advises caution as weather and Covid complicate holiday season – Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: With tourism set to peak during the Eidul Azha holiday, the National Command and Operations Center (NCOC) has advised travelers to exercise caution, check weather forecasts and pre-book accommodation.

A notice issued on Wednesday said Covid-19 cases were increasing again and therefore tourists should strictly adhere to SOPs.

In the past 24 hours, up to 805 more Covid-19 cases have been reported, taking the national positivity to 4.69%, while the number of intensive care patients rose to 169.

Tourists have been advised to wear masks, use hand sanitizers and avoid going to crowded places and maintain social distancing.

US donates mobile labs to boost Pakistan’s testing capacity

“We must ensure that all tourists [are] vaccinated and those who have been vaccinated, should opt for the booster dose,” the advisory reads.

Tourists should check weather forecasts and confirm hotel reservations before travelling.

“As hotels and restaurants … remain packed during the Eid holiday, make sure your residence is already booked and you have edibles [to] use in case of extended stay,” he said.

National Institute of Health (NIH) Executive Director Maj. Gen. Aamer Ikram also urged tourists to collect route and weather information before embarking on the journey.

In a statement, Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel also urged the masses to strictly adhere to SOPs.

US donates mobile labs

In another development, the US government donated four mobile labs to Pakistan to boost testing capacity for Covid-19 and other communicable diseases.

The labs donated through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will improve diagnostic accuracy, reduce test turnaround times, and protect healthcare workers.

The state-of-the-art labs were handed over to the NIH and the Ministry of Health on Wednesday at a ceremony in Islamabad.

The ceremony was attended by US Ambassador Donald Blome and Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel, as well as ministry officials.

Addressing the ceremony, Mr Blome praised workers and health officials for their effective response to the pandemic.

He also highlighted Pakistan’s successful vaccination campaign to inoculate citizens quickly.

“These mobile laboratories will strengthen the diagnostic capacity of provincial health departments and enable the government to respond quickly and effectively in remote areas that are difficult to reach in the event of an emergency, or epidemic and epidemic,” said Mr. Bloom.

Mr Patel expressed his gratitude for US support for improving health services in Pakistan and called it “a reflection of the strong bilateral relationship between the two countries”.

According to a statement, since the start of the pandemic, USAID has worked to save lives and contain the outbreak in more than 120 countries, including Pakistan.

USAID’s continued assistance provides emergency relief, strengthens health systems, supports vaccine preparation and distribution, improves public health education, and protects workers and health facilities, adds the communicated.

The United States has provided nearly 61.6 million doses of vaccines, one million Covid-19 rapid diagnostic test kits, as well as essential health supplies and training for health care workers in Pakistan.

These efforts are part of nearly $70 million in direct support and $9.2 million in in-kind support the U.S. government has provided to Pakistan.

Posted in Dawn, July 7, 2022

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