ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar Wednesday once again warned that the government would have to close down more sectors amid rising cases of COVID-19 and non-compliance of the SOPs. Addressing media conference after chairing the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) meeting here, the minister said that the nation was not observing SOPs as much as it did during the first wave of the pandemic. “If we will not take it (the pandemic) serious, I fear that after a couple weeks, the situation can become so worst that we will have no other choice but to close down more sectors.” “The most dangerous move is that some political parties are insisting to arrange big public gatherings despite ban on assembly of more than 300 people at one place,” he said. He said Pakistan had successfully fought against the coronavirus during its first wave with the efforts of the armed forces, the government, civil administration, media, Ulemas and with greater contribution of the general public. Asad Umar pointed out that the world institutions including World Economic Forum and United Nations had praised the Pakistan government policies during COVID-19. But, he said this was not the only responsibility of NCOC to look back and see what had happened in the past but the prime responsibility was that “we should look forward” as the NCOC has been mandated to safeguard the nation’s health and employment. By the mid of October, the minister maintained that the NCOC presented recommendations before the National Coordination Committee (NCC) meeting. By mid of October, the positivity ratio was only two percent however by last week it increased to 8.7 percent. He said by that week, only 8 people were dying daily, however the number of daily casualties due to COVID-19 had increased to abut 60 people per day. Similarly, he said the ratio of COVID patients being admitted and on oxygen had also increased by 400 percent. The minister said that during the second wave, the government had to announce early winter vacation of education institutions which restricted movement of over 50 million students and two million teachers. “The government knows that the businesses related to education, marriages, and hotels got hampered but the decision was inevitable to stop further spread of Corona virus. He informed that keeping in view the loss of businesses of selected sectors, the government was also mulling over preparing a relief package for such sectors.