The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Wednesday recommended early and extended winter vacations in schools due to rising positivity ratio being reported from the educational institutes. Following a meeting chaired by Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, the NCOC said that Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood will chair a special session with provincial education ministers on November 16 where the recommendation will be put forward. It also decided that the meeting of the ministers will also assess and review the positivity ratio prevailing in educational institutions. The NCOC decided to put forward the recommendation after a session of the body which reviewed the epidemic curve data and disease prevalence in the country including the education sector. The NCOC was informed about the increasing positivity ratio in educational institutions and the need to stop the trend. The body also shared that it will share with the provinces its recommendations, after consultative discussions, for consequent decision and enforcement. “The forum, taking into account rising positivity ratio, suggested early and extended winter vacations to reduce impact of disease spread and ensure safety and health of students,” said a statement issued by the NCOC. The NCOC called for banning large public gatherings and enhance restrictions in high risk areas due to COVID-19 resurge amid rising possible second wave of the pandemic. The forum was told that the disease had increased three folds since the NCOC recommended to ban large public gatherings and outdoor activities on October 12 and November 3 to the National Coordination Committee (NCC) for its final decision. However, consensus by all stakeholders was awaited, it added. The NCOC recommended that all public gatherings of more than 500 people should be banned including political, cultural, religious, entertainment and civil society gatherings. Moreover, for restaurants only outdoor dining till 10 pm and take away should be allowed. However, it also suggested that cinemas and theatres would be closed with immediate effect including shrines whereas early closing of markets with safe days was also proposed in the recommendations. The total active Covid-19 cases in Pakistan on Wednesday were recorded 21,098 as 1,708 more people tested positive for the deadly virus during the last 24 hours. Twenty-one patients, 20 of whom were under treatment in hospital and one out of hospital died, according to the latest update issued by the NCOC. No Covid-affected person was on ventilator in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), and Balochistan, while 197 ventilators were occupied elsewhere in Pakistan, out of 1,855 allocated for Covid-19 patients. Some 31,989 tests were conducted across the country on Tuesday, including 9,273 in Sindh, 11,388 in Punjab, 3,877 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 5,453 in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), 688 in Balochistan, 372 in GB, and 938 in AJK. Around 320,065 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 348,184 cases were detected so far, including AJK 4,911, Balochistan 16,195, GB 4,394, ICT 22,432, KP 41,069, Punjab 107,831 and Sindh 151,352.