ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan receives a shot of Covid-19 vaccine at PM House on Thursday.—White Star
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan receives a shot of Covid-19 vaccine at PM House on Thursday.—White Star

• Govt amends policy on price of shots imported privately
• NCOC warns of closing businesses if people continue to ignore SOPs
• Prime minister receives jab

ISLAMABAD: While the current year’s highest number of Covid-19 cases in a single day was reported on Thursday, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on the pandemic expressed concern on disregard for standard operating procedures (SOPs) and warned of closing businesses and imposing restrictions on economic and social activities if the trend continued.

Also in the day, vaccine was administered to Prime Minister Imran Khan, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood and former special assistant to the PM on health Dr Zafar Mirza.

On the other hand, Director General of National Health Services (NHS) Dr Rana Safdar revealed that around 1,000 people had complained about minor reaction of vaccine across Pakistan.

After vaccination, Prime Minister Khan appealed to the masses to strictly adhere to the SOPs. He said that the vaccination campaign was going on across the country and all frontline healthcare workers and people above the age of 60 were being vaccinated.

Shafqat Mahmood reached Polyclinic to get the jab. Dr Mirza, who had played a major role in preparing the strategy to deal with Covid-19 in the country, reached Federal General Hospital for vaccination.

During a meeting of the NCOC, chaired by federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, a briefing was given on implementation of various health guidelines already issued to the federating units.

“NCOC was apprised that implementation on those guidelines needs comprehensive review. NCOC showed serious concern on rising disease trend and mortality rate. The forum was briefed that a sharp rising trend in disease is visible and positivity (rate) has crossed 7.5 percent. Almost all major cities have crossed 5pc positivity (rate). Provincial Administrations have been asked to take immediate actions for strict implementation of SOPs,” an official statement stated.

“Serious concern was shown on general disregard of SOPs by masses. Mass violations of SOPs and disrespect of orders including not wearing of mask, disregard of social distancing are widely reported. Appeal was made to citizen(s) to once again display good example of social behavior and follow the SOPs in letter and spirit. Otherwise strict measures will have to be taken which may result into closure of business and restrictions on economic and social activities. It was also decided that Covid-19 vaccination centers across the country will remain closed on Sundays and national holidays,” the statement concluded.

Later Mr Umar said in a tweet. “Sharp spike in covid positivity. Hospital daily admissions & people in critical care rising fast. If sop compliance does not improve, we will be forced to place stronger restrictions on activities. Please be very careful. The new strain spreads faster and is more deadly.”

NHS DG Dr Safdar, while talking to Dawn, said that the monitoring system of the NCOC had so far recorded over 1,000 reports of reaction of vaccine but all were of minor nature and the vaccinated persons fully recovered.

“We have put in place an efficient adverse effect following immunisation system to monitor any untoward effect among vaccinated individuals. Reported symptoms are of very minor nature like irritation at injection site, headache, mild fever etc. We urge all eligible elderly populations to get themselves registered and vaccinated,” he said.

According to the data shared by the NCOC, as many as 3,495 cases and 61 deaths were reported in a single day on Thursday. Earlier 3,795 cases were reported on Dec 6, 2020.

While 272 ventilators were occupied in Pakistan, Islamabad’s 46pc, Multan’s 41pc, Lahore’s 37pc and Bahawalpur’s 27pc vents were in use. The data of oxygenated beds showed that Gujrat’s 67pc, Peshawar’s 51pc, Islamabad’s 43pc and Multan’s 31pc beds were in use.

The number of active cases, which was 16,000 in January, has surged to 24,592 as of March 18 and 2,472 patients have been admitted to hospitals.

Price of vaccine

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Faisal Sultan said that the government had reversed its decision to allow uncapped prices for Covid-19 vaccines imported by private firms, a move that coincided with the arrival of the first shipment of privately imported Russian Sputnik V shots, adds Reuters.

Pakistan last month allowed private firms to import coronavirus vaccines and agreed to exempt them from price caps.

“Now, however, there is a formula, already in vogue, to determine maximum price,” Mr Sultan told Reuters. “So yes, there is a price cap that DRAP (Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan) will recommend and get approval for.”

An official with M/s AGP Ltd, the company that imported the Sputnik shots, said the first shipment of 50,000 doses arrived on Wednesday night and it would be made available to people as soon as the government agreed on a price. Russian Direct Investment Fund, responsible for marketing the Sputnik V vaccine abroad, confirmed that a batch had been delivered to Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2021

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