The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Wednesday, after continuous warnings of rising Covid-19 cases across the country, made it compulsory for all citizens to wear a face mask when stepping out of their homes.

The directive comes a day after Pakistan’s active cases surpassed the 11,000 mark and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan announced that the second wave of the deadly virus had started in the country.

Today’s NCOC meeting, presided over by Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar, decided that wearing a face mask will be mandatory in both government and private sector offices.

Later in a tweet, Umar said NCOC has approved the use of antigen testing in addition to the PCR tests being carried out.

“This is part of a strategy to increase the level of testing. The symptomatic cases will all still be administered PCR tests. The decision is in line with the guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation,” he said.

According to a statement by NCOC, all provinces have been asked to ensure that people wear face masks and adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs), particularly in bazaars, shopping malls, public transport and restaurants.

Following the NCOC decision, the Islamabad district magistrate imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to order the wearing of face masks/covers in public places in the capital. Anyone not wearing a mask in public could be arrested by police.

 

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