The Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (MoNHSRC), provincial health departments and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) urged the public to strictly adhere to COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) in the wake of increasing number of infections in the country during the second wave of COVID-19. While chairing an online event about Reinforcing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) during Second Wave of COVID-19, organized jointly by MoNHSRC and UNICEF, Dr. Faisal Sultan said With over 440,000 confirmed cases in the country till date, the Government of Pakistan is once again taking strict measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus infection in the country. Provincial governments are following suit with health departments and administrative services enforcing necessary preventive measures at public places and encouraging people to protect themselves and others from the virus by adhering to the SoPs. “With the increase in the number of coronavirus infections, the number of patients in the hospitals has also increased, said Dr. Yasmin Rashid, Health Minister Punjab. “This has happened because we did not continue to practice SoPs. We must wear a mask when going out as it reduces transmission of infection by 70 per cent. Proper handwashing with soap is very beneficial and so is social distancing. If we continue to practice all SoPs, I assure you that we will counter the second wave of COVID-19 just as successfully as we managed the first time.” In his message for the occasion, Mr. Taimur Saleem Jhagra, Minister for Finance and Health, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said, “It is after 102 years that a pandemic such as COVID-19 has hit the world. Pakistan countered the first wave very well but now the second wave has hit the country and it can be even more dangerous. I request people to alter their social behaviour in terms of following the SoPs strictly so that neither our health system is overburdened, nor is the economic development affected. We must also follow the instructions of the NCOC for avoiding mass gatherings. And within our families, we must adhere to the SoPs and take special care of the elderly and those showing symptoms.” “Despite all difficulties, the first wave of COVID-19 was tackled by Pakistan in a very efficient manner, “saidMs. Rubaba Khan Buledi, Parliamentary Secretary Health, Balochistan. “Responsible civic behaviour of the general public made it possible. Now that the second wave of COVID-19 has hit Pakistan and we need the people to follow the SoPs very diligently. Please ensure that you wash your hands frequently, wear the mask properly when going out, do not go out unnecessarily and maintaining social distance with others. We in Balochistan are taking all possible measures to curb and curtail this disease.” Dr. Irshad Memon, Director General Health Services Sindh said, “In Sindh, we managed to control the situation well during the first wave of COVID-19, however, just as the number of cases started to decrease, we became complacent in taking precautions against the virus. The positivity rate that had come down to around 2.5 percent has now gone up to 14percent in the province, but we can control this by practicing the SoPs” Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Pakistan, UNICEF has been on the forefront supporting the Government of Pakistan to help prevent the spread of the virus. It has supported the national response in Risk Communication and Community Engagement by ensuring timely and accurate information to families and communities and promoting positive behavior towards following SoPs. “As we are now receiving positive news about COVID-19 vaccines, we must realise that the existence of a safe and effective vaccine alone will not end the pandemic,” said UNICEF Representative in Pakistan, Ms. Aida Girma. “We need a diverse set of tools to help slow the spread of COVID-19, including continuation of preventive measures such as hand washing, physical distancing and mask wearing, diagnostics and treatments. We can’t be complacent; we can’t let our guards down and we must continue to adhere to SOPs.” “UNICEF has joined the Advance Market Commitment of the COVAX Facility to allow low- and lower-middle income countries access to COVID-19 vaccines. In Pakistan, UNICEF will be leveraging its unique strengths in community engagement and vaccine supply to make sure that COVAX facilities have safe, fast and equitable access to the vaccine. This is an enormous undertaking and many challenges still lay ahead, but we are determined to make sure that Pakistan receives sufficient numbers and citizens have access to it”. During the online event, a COVID-19 survivour shared her experience of suffering and recovering from the infection and the importance of practicing SoPs, young adolescents talked about safe behaviour inside and outside their homes and a video was aired encouraging people to: n Avoid public gatherings n Wear a mask when they leave their house, including when shopping at the market and if praying at the mosque n Wash their hands with soap for 20 seconds, or with a sanitizer, regularly n Refrain from touching their eyes, nose, mouth and ears with unwashed hands n Stay at least six feet away from other people n Stay at home in case they develop COVID-19 symptoms.