ISLAMABAD: As the first phase of inoculation of frontline healthcare workers against Covid-19 continues, Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Sunday alleged that the vaccine was being administered to VIPs in Sindh.
He claimed that in the Centre, the vaccine had not even been given to Prime Minister Imran Khan, federal ministers or their families.
In a tweet, Mr Umar said complaints had been received that people other than the healthcare workers were receiving the vaccine jabs in Karachi. As a result, representatives of the Sindh government were instructed during the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) meeting to vaccinate healthcare workers only.
He said the vaccine had been given to the provincial government and therefore should inoculate healthcare personnel.
According to media reports, NCOC National Coordinator Lt Gen Hamooduz Zaman Khan has been directed to investigate the matter.
The vaccination drive was launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Feb 2 in Islamabad, which started in the rest of the country the next day.
Pakistan performs better
With the country reporting another 1,346 infections and 53 deaths and the overall positivity rate of 3.64pc on Sunday, the global ranking of Pakistan in terms of most number of cases dropped to the 30th place.
In June last year, the country was among the top 10 countries having the most Covid-19 infections.
Pakistan’s ranking is much better than the United States (US), India, Russia, United Kingdom (UK), France, Turkey, Germany, South Africa, Iran, Indonesia, Canada, Israel, Iraq and Sweden.
According to data released by the NCOC on Sunday, total number of people having been infected by Covid-19 since Feb 26, 2020 was 554,474, with 11,967 dying. The rest of the infected people had recovered. There are 32,265 active cases at present, the data revealed.
Meanwhile, majority of the frontline healthcare workers in Islamabad seem to have adopted a ‘wait and see’ policy as only 34 health professionals have so far been vaccinated against Covid-19 since the drive was launched on Feb 2.
However, District Health Officer Dr Zaeem Zia hoped that a large number of healthcare workers would be inoculated on Monday (today) as around 300 appointments had been called for the day.
The global data showed that the US had reported the most number of cases – over 27 million – and around 473,000 deaths. India has recorded 10.8 million cases and 155,000 deaths, Brazil, 9.4 million cases and 231,000 deaths; UK, 3.9 million cases and 112,000 deaths; Turkey, 2.5 million cases and 26,000 deaths, and Iran, over 1.4 million cases and 55,000 deaths.
However, in the US, 970,567 tests per million population were carried out, whereas in the UK, 1.12 million tests were conducted. Russia carried out 712,464 tests, Turkey, 359,156; Brazil, 133,977; India, 144,560; Iran, 114,219 whereas Pakistan conducted only 36,664 tests per million population.
Novel coronavirus was first detected in China in December 2019 which then spread to other countries. Pakistan closed its borders and took a number of steps to stop the spread. The first case of the virus was reported in Pakistan in the last week of February 2020.
On March 13 of that year, the meeting of the National Security Committee, comprising top civil and military leadership, was held to discuss the crisis which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, who had chaired the meeting, directed the relevant authorities to devise a comprehensive strategy to check the spread of the disease.
Lockdown was announced on March 16 and a number of industries, educational institutions, restaurants and marriage halls were closed. Pakistan also sealed its western border with Afghanistan and Iran and even closed Kartarpur shrine to local people.
The National Disaster Management Authority was involved to ensure availability of medical equipment and health-related supplies at the earliest.
After the construction industry was opened on Aug 7, the National Coordination Committee on Covid-19 lifted restrictions on tourism on Aug 8 and on restaurants and transport sector from Aug 10.
Educational institutions and marriage halls were opened on Sept 15, 2020.
After restrictions were eased, a large number of people thronged public spots without following the SOPs. As a result, tourist destinations in Gilgit-Baltistan had to be closed.
In October 2020, cases started to rise again and the NCOC officially declared it to be the second wave of the virus.
Initially educational institutions, from where cases were being reported, were closed and then a lockdown policy was announced for hotspots. As the situation worsened on Nov 11, the NCOC decided to increase restrictions, and finally closed educational institutions on Nov 26.
After the situation improved, secondary schools and colleges were opened on Jan 18, 2021 while and primary and middle institutions resumed from Feb 1.
Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2021