For the second consecutive day, Pakistan reported more than 4,000 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, data from the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) showed. The national tally of total active Covid-19 cases was recorded at 59761 with 4,497 more people testing positive for the deadly virus on Thursday. At least 76 patients died on Thursday, of whom 70 were under treatment in hospitals and six in their respective quarantines or homes, according to the latest update issued by the NCOC. On Thursday, most of the deaths occurred in Sindh followed by Punjab. Out of total 76 deaths, 37 died on ventilators during their treatment. The maximum ventilators were occupied in four major areas including Karachi 17 percent, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) 42 percent, Peshawar 19 percent and Lahore 20 percent. The NCOC has set an August 31 deadline for sectors dealing with the public to get their staff vaccinated. Addressing a press briefing after a meeting at the NCOC, Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar said that the government is targeting to ramp up vaccinations and take it to the one million daily mark, which he said is only possible with the assistance of the public. SAPM on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, who was also present during the session, said that critical care cases, which were less than 2,000 in June, have surged past 3,000. He said that the pressure on health facilities across the country has increased considerably during the last few days as the infection rate has spiked. The minister said students over 18 years of age, teachers, transporters, government employees, hotel and wedding hall staffers and personnel of law enforcement agencies must get themselves vaccinated before the end of the next month. “We have identified that banks, markets, public offices and schools are the sectors dealing with the public and in order to curb the virus spread, vaccination has been made mandatory for those working in these sectors,” the minister said. Umar said that those who are not vaccinated by August 1 will not be allowed to teach. He warned the public that the situation is getting worse and if the government-mandated safety protocols are not followed, it would get worse. According to the NCOC data collected for the 26-28 July period, he said, the implementation on SOPs is not as good as it was earlier. “Islamabad has the highest enforcement of health guidelines of around 56.4%. Next is Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at 46%, Punjab is 38%, while the lowest [enforcement] is in Sindh and Balochistan at 33%,” he said. Expressing concerns over the Karachi situation where the positivity ratio has exceeded 30%, Umar supported the steps taken by the Sindh government to curb the spread and said the federal government will extend all support to the province. “Sindh is taking proactive measures, which is the right thing to do right now,” he said. On media reports of a possible lockdown in Karachi, he said this is not the solution. “In the past one year, we have learnt that shutting down had not worked and it won’t work now. So the only way forward is to vaccinate and follow SOPs.” Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination Dr Faisal Sultan urged the citizens to strictly follow Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to prevent the disease in the wake of a sudden increase in the number of infections in the country.