Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said on Thursday that after more than 70 days, the national Covid-19 positivity ratio is now higher than 3 percent. He said the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) has also tightened restrictions on some high risk public activities. “However, the rising spread of the disease can only be controlled if people believe in the need for precautions,” he added. Earlier, in another tweet, Asad Umar who also chairs NCOC meetings said the Center had approved the use of antigen testing, in addition to the PCR tests being carried out. “This is part of 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 World Health Organization (WHO),” he added. The total active Covid-19 cases in Pakistan on Thursday were recorded 11,695 as 908 more people tested positive for the deadly virus during the last 24 hours. Sixteen corona patients, who were under treatment in hospitals died, according to the latest update issued by the NCOC. No Covid-affected person is on ventilator in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Gilgit Baltistan (GB) and Balochistan, while 95 ventilators elsewhere in Pakistan, out of 1,884 allocated for Covid-19 patients, are occupied. Some 29,449 tests were conducted across the country on Wednesday, including 9,150 in Sindh, 10,371 in Punjab, 3,615 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 4,810 in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), 714 in Balochistan, 313 in Gilgit Baltistan (GB), and 476 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). Around 312,638 people have recovered from the disease so far across Pakistan making it a significant count with over 90 percent recovery ratio of the affected patients. Since the pandemic outbreak, a total of 331,108 cases were detected so far, including AJK 3,938, Balochistan 15,876, GB 4,211, ICT 19,454, KP 39,277, Punjab 103,587 and Sindh 144,765. About 6,775 deaths were recorded in country since the eruption of the contagion, including 2,611 Sindh among seven of them died in hospital on Wednesday, 2,347 in Punjab five of them died in hospital on Wednesday, 1,273 in KP where two of them died in hospital on Wednesday, 215 in ICT one of them died in hospital on Wednesday, 149 in Balochistan, 92 in GB and 88 in AJK among one of them died in hospital on Wednesday. A total of 4,376,604 corona tests have been conducted so far, while 735 hospitals are equipped with COVID facilities. Some 897 corona patients were admitted in hospitals across the country. Wearing masks has been made compulsory in ‘confined spaces’ of Karachi’s District Central as coronavirus cases continue to surge across Pakistan, a notification from the Deputy Commissioner District Central Karachi, Dr MB Raja Oharejo, said Thursday. The decision had been made in light of the National Command and Operations Centre’s recommendations, stated the deputy commissioner. “Strict enforcement of compulsory mask-wearing in confined spaces (indoors, public transport, outdoor crowded settings like markets and bus stands, and railway stations, etc.),” the notification read. Moreover, markets, shopping malls, marriage halls, and restaurants, etc. – excluding essential services i.e. medical stores, clinics, and hospitals – have been ordered to close by 10:00 pm. The notification stated that “amusement [and] public parks” will be closed by 6:00 pm daily. Earlier during the day, Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghan had said the situation on schools’ closure was unclear at the moment. Karachi recorded 293 coronavirus cases on Thursday, according to a statement from Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah.