ISLAMABAD: As the coronavirus has claimed more than 500 lives in just five days with positivity ratio rising as high as 10.47 per cent, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) expects arrival of a large quantity of vaccine within next few weeks.
At a session chaired by Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, it was decided to extend the existing non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) such as markets closure and restrictions on transport till Monday, while the NCOC would have a brain-storming session on April 12 (Sunday) with special focus on a mechanism for NPIs implementation during Ramazan.
The forum discussed vaccination plan during the upcoming holy month, as participants in the meeting were told that sufficient quantity of vaccine was scheduled to arrive after the mid of April.
The NCOC decided that the vaccination centres will remain open during Ramazan, as the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and a number of international scholars had given verdicts in favour of vaccination while fasting.
Three million doses
An official of the Ministry of National Health Services, requesting not to be quoted, said Pakistan would also get around three million doses of Cansino Bio, which is a single-dose Chinese vaccine, after mid April.
“Moreover, during the visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, this week, [procurement of] Russian vaccine was also discussed,” he said.
Covid Vaccine Global Access (Covax), an international initiative aimed at equitable access to vaccines, had earlier informed Pakistan that around 17 million doses of vaccine would reach the country by end of March, pledging free vaccine for the country’s 20pc population. However, Covax later told the government that vaccine would be supplied by June 30.
5,139 new cases, 100 deaths in a day
Data released by the NCOC showed 100 more deaths from the disease on a fifth consecutive day, while 5,139 more people contracted the virus in a single day.
Of the 100 deaths across the country, 57 were reported from Punjab and 33 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Less than one third of the patients who died had been on ventilators. Since the outbreak of the virus last year in February, 15,329 patients have died in the country and more than 500 of these deaths have been reported in last five days only.
On Saturday, 4,858 patients were hospitalized and 501 ventilators were in use across the country. In Gujranwala, 88pc of the ventilators were occupied, followed by Multan’s 81pc and Lahore’s 79pc while 53pc of the ventilators in Islamabad were in use.
Regarding availability of oxygenated beds in different parts of the country, the NCOC data showed that Gujranwala’s 85pc, Peshawar’s 77pc, Gujrat’s 71pc and Swat’s 64pc beds were in use of Covid patients.
Currently, the country has 73,078 active cases, which is the highest number of active cases since the beginning of the year 2021.
11pc of global cases in South Asia
According to a Reuters tally, coronavirus infections in the South Asia sub-region has surpassed the grim milestone of 15 million on Saturday, led by India’s record daily infections and vaccine shortages.
South Asia — India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, the Maldives and Sri Lanka — accounts for 11pc of global cases and almost six per cent of deaths. The region accounts for 23pc of the world’s population of 7.59 billion people.
With the third-highest coronavirus infections, India accounts for over 84pc of South Asia’s cases and deaths. It reported 145,384 new cases on Saturday, the fastest climb in the world and the country’s fifth record this week, as well as 794 deaths.
The government blames the current spike on crowding and a reluctance to wear facemasks.
Pakistan, the second-hardest hit in the region, is in its third wave. Bangladesh is reporting about 7,000 cases a day, totaling some 678,937 cases.
By Friday, 94.1 million people in the region had received their first vaccine dose.
Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2021