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MUZAFFARABAD: Amid an alarming spike in Covid-19 cases in Mirpur district of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), the local administration announced a one-week lockdown in the district from Monday.

All educational institutions will remain closed for two weeks and other religious, political and social activities have also been banned, according to an order issued by office of the Deputy Commissioner Badar Munir.

District Health Officer (DHO) Mirpur Dr Fida Hussain told Dawn that tests of 4,334 persons were conducted in Mirpur this month, out of whom 470 turned out to be positive while in January 266 out of 2,697 persons tested positive.

Around 28 people lost their lives in February alone, he said, adding there are 326 active cases in the district currently and 24 of them are hospitalised while the rest are under home isolation.

A total lockdown became inevitable in the lakeside district as there were no signs of the disease abating, DC Munir said adding: “The administration and health department tried their best to contain the infection, but the sharp increase in Covid-19 cases, particularly over the past two weeks, has baffled everyone; resultantly leaving us with no choice but to take some harsh measures.”

He expressed the hope that people would cooperate with the administration in the interest of their own safety.

The order issued by his office declared that the lockdown would remain in force from 6am on Monday until 12 midnight on Sunday (March 7), during which all businesses would remain closed except those allowed to operate for a specified duration with strict adherence to the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

He said all grocery stores, bakeries, meat, fruit and vegetable shops, and LPG cylinder shops would do business from 8am to 4pm on Tuesday and Friday, while dairy shops, tandoors and tyre repair shops would remain open from 6am to 7pm. Pharmacies and petrol pumps will be open round the clock throughout the week in accordance with SOPs.

There would be a ban on all religious, political and social gatherings and sports activities for two weeks, from March 1 to March 14. During this period, all public sector and private educational institutions would remain closed, the order said, adding, no inter-city, intra-district and intra-provincial transport will be operated.

All marriage halls, parks and recreation centres will remain closed for one month, from March 1 to March 31. No hotel would host a wedding party while wedding ceremonies in homes will not be allowed to host more than 25 guests.

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