The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has announced new non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) that must be implemented in cities and districts where the COVID-19 positivity rate has exceeded two percent. The measures, effective from today, are: strict enforcement of “compulsory mask-wearing” rule in confined spaces including indoor venues, public transport, bus and train stations, markets and other crowded spots; implementation of broad-based smart lockdowns in areas identified as hotspots; closure of commercial activities by 10pm; closure of amusement and public parks by 6pm. The decision to restrict commercial activities is aimed to curb the further spread of an already rising number of coronavirus infections and pertains to: restaurants, wedding halls, commercial markets, shopping malls. Essential services such as medical stores, clinics and hospitals will remain open. The development comes on the back of an announcement made by the NCOC earlier in the day, mandating the use of masks by all citizens across the country, in all public spaces, citing a rising number of coronavirus cases. To that end, it is now compulsory for everyone to wear masks in government and private offices as well as in markets and shopping malls. The NCOC informed that around 80 percent disease spread and increase in positivity ratio was recorded in 11 major cities across the country. The NCOC meeting, chaired by Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, was told that at present 4,374 lockdowns were imposed with 30,610 people restricted under lockdown. NCOC directed provinces to ensure compliance on wearing of face mask SOPs particularly bazaars, shopping mall, public transport, restaurants and others. Also, amid the rising cases and to boost the country’s testing capacity, the NCOC approved the use of antigen testing for coronavirus patients, federal minister Asad Umar confirmed on Twitter. Taking to the micro-blogging website, Umar said the NCOC had approved the use of antigen testing in addition to the PCR tests currently being used throughout the country. The 11 major cities with increased disease spread and positivity ratio included Quetta, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan, Peshawar, Islamabad Capital Territory, Hyderabad, Mirpur, Karachi, Gilgit and Muzaffarabad. On the other hand, the total active COVID-19 cases in Pakistan on Wednesday were recorded 11,627 as 825 more people tested positive for the deadly virus during the last 24 hours. Fourteen corona patients, 13 of whom were under treatment in hospital and one out of hospital died on Tuesday, according to the latest update issued by the National command and Operation Centre (NCOC). No COVID affected person was on ventilator in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Gilgit Baltistan (GB) and Balochistan, while 98 ventilators elsewhere in Pakistan, out of 1,884 allocated for COVID-19 patients, were occupied. Some 29,477 tests were conducted across the country on Tuesday, including 8,860 in Sindh, 11,056 in Punjab, 3,955 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 4,023 in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), 838 in Balochistan, 181 in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), and 564 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).