ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday urged the masses to strictly observe the government’s mandated COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) on the occasion of Eid ul Adha to keep the virus at bay. PM Imran Khan warned the nation about the Delta variant that emerged in India and said that India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Indonesia are currently suffering because of it. “Given the current situation in countries like Afghanistan, where there is an acute shortage of oxygen, I would like to say a few things to the nation,” the PM said. He said Allah has been very merciful towards Pakistan and even foreign publications like The Economist has listed Pakistan as one of the top three nations that were able to control the pandemic in an efficient way. وزیر اعظم عمران خان کی ملک میں کرونا وباء کی حالیہ صورتحال کے حوالے سے میڈیا سے گفتگو۔@PakPMO @fawadchaudhry @nhsrcofficial https://t.co/VcE8HiVFM3 — Government of Pakistan (@GovtofPakistan) July 8, 2021 He lauded the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) as well as the State Bank of Pakistan for carrying out research to contain the virus from spreading. “Even though I know that people are fed up of following the SOPs across the world and I understand that, I would again like to appeal to the masses to [at least] wear a mask at all times so that the country could be saved from the possible fourth wave of the pandemic.” According to the government’s Covid-19 portal, the number of daily Covid-19 cases dropped from four digits to three digits on June 25. The daily cases being reported remained close to the 900 mark till June 27 and further fell to 735 on June 28. The positivity rate, which stood at less than 2 per cent in June, crossed 3pc after a gap of 20 days. He explained that masks should be worn at all times whenever someone is in a confined space with other people — including wedding functions, restaurants, and rooms — because the chances of the virus spreading within indoor environments are extremely high. “If someone is out in the open, for example in a park, they can take their masks off, but when they are inside a bus or a car with other people, for instance, they must wear a mask,” the premier explained while holding a mask in his hands. Talking about the downsides of a lockdown on the country, the prime minister said: “When you impose a lockdown, the most affected segment is the poor, and for the sake of our people, our economy, and our elders, I urge everyone to wear masks,” he appealed. “I would ask Pakistanis to mandatorily wear masks and observe precautions, especially during the occasion of Eid ul Adha,” he said. Towards the end of his speech, the premier also urged people to get vaccinated. He added that even though Pakistan does not manufacture the anti-coronavirus vaccine on its own and the vaccination drive is not as quick as it is in the US, for instance, people should take advantage of the available vaccines in the country and get themselves inoculated as soon as possible.