Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho on Tuesday said the provincial government would buy Cansino's coronavirus vaccines directly from China after the federal government allowed provinces to purchase jabs independently.
Addressing a press conference in Karachi, she shared that Rs500 million had been allocated by the Sindh government for the purchase of the single-dose vaccine.
"We want the most number of people to be vaccinated but our vaccination process is slow because we are receiving too few doses. This is why we are trying to administer all the doses we are receiving," she said.
Pechuho said that presently, there were 175 adult vaccination centres in the province, out of which 29 were in Karachi, eight in Hyderabad, while the rest were in different districts of Sindh.
She urged people to continue following standard operating procedures (SOPs), cautioning that until 70 per cent of the country's population was vaccinated against the virus, following the SOPs was the "most reliable way to prevent the spread" of Covid-19.
Sharing details of the vaccine doses Sindh has received so far, the health minister said 362,000 doses had been initially sent by the federal government for 181,000 people. Of these, 163,808 doses have been administered to people, including senior citizens from the general population.
She added that 59,586 of these were second doses, administered mostly to healthcare workers because it was not yet time for senior citizens to receive the second dose since it was to be given 21 days after the first one.
Giving further information, Pechuho said 20,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine had been received by the province a day earlier, while 200,000 more doses from a recent batch would be sent by the federal government later.
Referring to the Cansino vaccine, 60,000 doses of which were received by Pakistan today, she said 8,000 to 10,000 of these would be given to Sindh.
PPP rally, Sehwan Mela postponed
Pechuho also said the PPP was postponing its rally scheduled to be held in Rawalpindi on April 4 as well as the Sehwan Mela in view of the rising coronavirus cases in Punjab.
She said it was necessary to postpone the rally — due to be held to mark the 42nd death anniversary of PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto — and the mela because if they took place, "there would be an influx of people travelling to attend them and due to the upward trend in Covid-19 positivity rates, this would have only made matters worse in terms of rising infection rates."
The health minister said the Sindh government had started to screen passengers at bus and train stations to monitor the coronavirus situation and prepare for it. If a passenger is found to have a fever, they will have to get tested for Covid-19, their district will be notified and the person and their family will be instructed to isolate at home for the next two weeks, she added.
Talking about the reason behind a higher number of cases being reported in provinces other than Sindh, Pechuho said it was because of "a higher frequency of travelling in other regions as well as the presence of the UK variant in large numbers, especially in Punjab".
"This variant of Covid-19 though said to be not more dangerous than the first, spreads much faster and therefore can infect more people rapidly and cause more casualties," she explained.
Pakistan recorded 100 deaths in the last 24 hours, and 4,084 new infections, with a national positivity rate of 8.8pc.
The country has recorded 14,356 deaths and 663,200 infections since the pandemic began. Around two-thirds of ventilators and 80pc of oxygenated beds are occupied in hospitals in major cities, according to officials.