COVID Watch | 31st October 2020

National positivity rate crossed 3% for the first time in 70 days while upwards of 1,000 single-day COVID-19 infections were recorded on Thursday as second wave picks up steam in Pakistan; eleven districts and sessions courts in Islamabad sealed as judges and court staffers test positive for the coronavirus disease; Government Postgraduate College for Women in Mardan sealed as three teachers and five students found infected, while Sindh education minister Saeed Ghani mulls online education over fears of suspending schools once again amidst second wave outbreak.


The second wave begins in Pakistan

Federal Minister for Planning, Development, Reforms and Special Initiatives, and Chair of the National Command and Operations Center Asad Umar tweeted that on October 28 the national coronavirus positivity rate was recorded upwards of 3%, a first in 70 days. Although the NCOC has been tightening restrictions, Umar reiterated that controlling the second wave hinged upon people’s adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs). Daily deaths hit 20, the highest since the beginning of September, on the same day.

Daily COVID-19 cases also crossed the 1,000 mark on October 29 as 1,078 fresh infections emerged from 32,933 samples, indicating a positivity rate of 3.27%. Pakistan last reported over 1,000 cases on July 29.

School closures on the cards?

Provincial Minister of Sindh for Labour, Education and Literacy, and Human Resources Saeed Ghani mulled extending online education facilities over fears of possible school closures during the second wave. During an event at the NJV Government Higher Secondary School in Karachi, he found that SOP compliance has been much better in Sindh schools than in other sectors. He also admitted that although the provincial government is currently unable to ensure online education for the entire region’s student population, he considered it a good step even if 60% to 70% of students could be provided with quality internet facilities.

Meanwhile, the Government Postgraduate College for Women in the Baghada area of Mardan was sealed for disinfection till November 3 as three teachers and five students tested positive for COVID-19. Samples of an additional hundred students and teachers have been sent to a laboratory for testing.

Eleven Islamabad courts sealed

Eleven of 70 courts under district and sessions court judges in Islamabad have been sealed for two weeks after eleven judges and court staff, as well as some lawyers, were found positive for the novel coronavirus disease. Three courts of additional and sessions judges, a court of a senior civil judge, and seven courts of civil judges were sealed.