NCOC – The Valiant Heroes of Pakistan’s Response to COVID-19

ncoc vaccination helpline

The National Command Operation Center (NCOC) has been extremely vigilant in containing the spread of Coronavirus in Pakistan. COVID-19 took the whole world by storm when it first emerged back in 2020. Since then countries worldwide have been in a constant struggle of devising the best policies to keep the spread of the epidemic under control.

According to Worldometer, as of 13th August 2021, the total coronavirus cases reported in Pakistan are 1,089,913 and 24,266 deaths. Looking at these figures it’s clear that the disease has left a widespread mark on our country.

However, it is because of the constant efforts of the government of Pakistan and especially the NCOC that these numbers have been restricted to where they are now. Without the help of the NCOC, the situation could have been a lot worse.

So how exactly did the NCOC manage to control the spread of the deadly epidemic in Pakistan? Keep reading as we provide you with all the details.

What is the NCOC?

The NCOC or the National Command Operation Center is a central body that heads and oversees the nationwide response to COVID-19 in Pakistan. It was formed in April 2020 under the orders of the Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Imran Khan. One of its major functions involves collecting, analyzing, and processing real-time data related to the virus from all regions and provinces in Pakistan.

The NCOC also governs and implements policies undertaken to curtail the spread of COVID-19 and recommends probable steps backed by evidence to the National Coordination Committee (NCC) to keep the spread of the disease under check through informed decisions.

Initiatives taken by the NCOC to contain the spread of coronavirus in Pakistan

1. Travel restrictions

To speed up the vaccination campaign in Pakistan the NCOC has banned air travel for unvaccinated people. After September 10, 2021, a vaccination certificate would be required if citizens wish to travel by air.

Furthermore, the NCOC took another decision to ban train travel for unvaccinated people after October 1st, 2021 in a bid to contain the spread of the pandemic and persuade people to get vaccinated.

2. Smart lockdowns

The NCOC played a key role in managing COVID-19 in Pakistan through the use of suppression measures such as smart lockdowns throughout the country.

During the surge of coronavirus cases in the country, key areas in all provinces went under lockdown, and reduced timings were imposed on markets and shops for commercial activities. Restaurants, educational institutions, and public places like cinemas and parks were also temporarily closed.

These policies ensured that people didn’t leave their houses unnecessarily and it helped contain the spread of the virus.

3. Sehat Tahaffuz Helpline (1166)

The NCOC launched a national helpline “1166” to provide help and information regarding the COVID-19 epidemic to concerned citizens.

Dubbed the Sehat Tahaffuz Helpline it is a vital national support system for the coronavirus and reportedly receives a whopping 70,000 calls a day!

4. Pak Neghayban App

The NCOC launched the Pak Neghayban App amid the pandemic to assist citizens and healthcare workers alike. Citizens can check the availability of hospital beds and ventilators in hospitals near them through the app. Moreover, the health officers can log in to the app to help COVID-19 affected patients.

5. Development and Implementation of SOP’s

The NCOC has played a key in developing and implementing standard operating procedures (SOP’s) to curtail the spread of the virus across the country.

The NCOC set the proper guidelines that citizens should follow to prevent coronavirus and ensured their implementation. Not only have they set the general SOPs that are to be followed by the masses, but they have also developed the SOPs for specific events and holidays like Ramzan, Eid-ul-Adha, Independence Day, and so on.

6. Vaccination drives

The NCOC has been remarkable in expediating the vaccination process among the Pakistani masses. The nerve center has made available several dedicated vaccination centers throughout Pakistan where citizens can easily get vaccinated for free without any hassle. The NCOC has also put forward a simple 6-step process that Pakistanis can follow to get vaccinated. The steps include:

  • Registration: By sending an SMS with your CNIC to “1166”
  • Visiting a vaccination center: Visit a vaccination center near you.
  • Verification: Your CNIC and PIN is verified by the healthcare workers at the vaccination center
  • Vaccination: After verification you can get vaccinated. Several vaccines are available including Pfizer, Moderna, Sinopharm, Sinovac, etc.
  • Confirmation: To confirm and check your vaccination record you can send your CNIC to “1166”
  • Monitoring: The healthcare workers will monitor your health 30 minutes after vaccine administration.

The Promising Results of NCOC’s Efforts

With the help of NCOC’s vigilance, Pakistan avoided a nationwide lockdown, and fatality rates were limited. The daily positive cases have been kept below 5000. As compared to Pakistan the situation in some other countries is quite abysmal. For instance, in India, the daily reported cases of COVID-19 are around 40,120 as of 12, August 2021.

Here are the figures as of August 13, 2021:

Meanwhile, the NCOC continues to monitor the spread of COVID-19 with a close eye on speeding up the vaccinations being administered in the country.

Pakistan’s response to the epidemic lead by the NCOC has been lauded by many international organizations and notable personalities throughout the world.

For instance, Pakistan was ranked third by the Economist in their Normalcy Index. The Normalcy Index is a list of the top 50 world’s largest economies ranked based on their response to COVID-19.

Organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) also gave recognition to Pakistan’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of WHO also gave his positive remarks on Pakistan and how well they have managed to curtail the spread of the virus. Here is his tweet:

This was also shared in a tweet by Dr. Zafar Mirza:

On the occasion of 500 days, since the NCOC came into formation, a documentary of their resilient efforts was upload on the ISPR Official YouTube channel and widely shared on social media.

The inspirational video was also shared by the DG ISPR in a tweet paying tribute to the efforts of the NCOC.

Shafqat Mahmood, the Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training in Pakistan also took to Twitter to praise the NCOC on this occasion. Here’s what he said

Here’s another tweet showing appreciation towards NCOC by Muhammed Hamza Shafqaat, Deputy Commissioner, Islamabad, Pakistan.

Conclusion

The NCOC continues to fight COVID-19 at the forefront of the battlefield. Their persistent efforts to contain the spread of the disease are nothing short of spectacular. Now it is our duty as responsible Pakistani citizens to follow the guidelines set by the NCOC and do our part in overcoming COVID-19 once and for all!

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About the Author: Dr. Maliha Khan

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