Record number of virus-related deaths reported since last June

Published April 14, 2021
A worker fills oxygen cylinders for hospital use on Covid-19 coronavirus patients, at a factory in Peshawar on April 13. — AFP
A worker fills oxygen cylinders for hospital use on Covid-19 coronavirus patients, at a factory in Peshawar on April 13. — AFP

ISLAMABAD: While a record number of single-day deaths since June 2020 (118) was reported on Tuesday, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar warned that the new UK variant of coronavirus was spreading in southern parts of the country and said vaccination of the people between 50 and 60 years would start soon after Eidul Fitr

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on health Dr Faisal Sultan has revealed that Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the authorities to resolve the issue of three hospitals of Sindh as per the wish of the chief minister of the province.

According to data of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), 153 deaths due to Covid-19 were reported in Pakistan on June 20 last year. Next day 148 deaths were reported and since then the number of deaths remained less than 118.

The data showed that as of April 13, 503 ventilators were in use of Covid-19 patients across the country. Over 80pc ventilators were in use in Gujranwala, Multan and Lahore. Over 70pc oxygen beds were in use in Gujranwala, Charsadda, Swabi and Peshawar. The number of active cases was 76,034 and 5,024 patients were admitted to hospitals.

Meanwhile, as per directives of the NCOC for Ramazan, in the federal capital vaccination centres will remain closed on Fridays, instead of Sundays. Moreover, vaccination centres will open in two different timings i.e. from 12pm to 4pm and from 8pm to 12am.

Vaccination of people between 50 & 60 years to start after Eid

Spokesperson for the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) Sajid Shah told Dawn that a notification in this regard had been issued for Islamabad and the chief secretaries of the provinces could amend the timing as per their convenience and requirements.

Earlier timing for vaccination centres was from 9am to 2pm.

“During Ramazan majority of people, particularly elderly people, sleep after Sehri due to which it will not be possible for them to wake up early in the morning. Same is the case with the healthcare staff,” Mr Shah said.

He appealed to the people to wear masks and try to avoid going to crowded places such as shopping malls, etc. “We fear that Covid-19 cases may rise during last week of Ramazan as a large number of people will visit markets for Eid shopping,” Mr Shah said.

Asad Umar, while talking about the spread of the new UK variant of coronavirus in southern parts of the country, called upon the people and the authorities to seriously take notice of situation.

“We want to avoid the situation in the last days of Ramazan as Eid shopping take place in those days,” he said.

“If the pandemic continues to surge in the last days of Ramazan, the government will be left with no option but to enforce lockdown,” Mr Umar warned.

Addressing meet the press programme at National Press Club in Islamabad, he criticised the mainstream opposition parties, mainly PPP led-Sindh government, for not fulfilling their constitutional obligation by taking the responsibility to vaccine the people.

“They only talk about the 18th Amendment but have not invested in a single vaccine. On the other hand, they got their families and friends vaccinated from the lot procured by the federal government,” the minister said.

He clarified that there was no evidence that the coronavirus vaccine contained traces of fats, brain or any other body part of pigs or monkeys.

The minister presented a mapping of the current wave of Covid-19 and said that it was observed that not only certain districts of Pakistan but many countries were suffering from the UK variant due to returnees.

The minister said that the vaccination for the people of age group between 50 and 60 years would start soon after Eidul Fitr and asked people of this group to get themselves registered.

He added that less than 10pc of population over 50 years of age had so far registered themselves. He said that currently 60,000 to 70,000 people were receiving vaccines on daily basis and this number would be increased up to 200,000 after Eidul Fitr.

More than 1.3m people had so far been vaccinated in the country, he said and added that as of now, 900,000 vaccines were available in the country and more would be procured in coming days.

The minister added that there was dearth of global supply as only China and India dealt in international trade of vaccines while Russia had a smaller role in it.

In reply to a question, he said in the beginning, queue jumping happened and some people received vaccine out of turn but now every person is receiving the vaccine on his or her turn.

“Even the president and the prime minister received the vaccine on their turn, “I being chairman of the NCOC and the vaccine procurement committee have not yet received the dose because my turn has not come yet,” he added.

Sindh hospitals

During a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Health, SAPM Dr Faisal Sultan said that the Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed the authorities to address the issue of three hospitals of Sindh as per wish of Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah.

“We have no objection if the Sindh government wants to run those hospitals. We have to implement the decision of the Supreme Court so we will find a solution as per law,” he said while briefing the meeting chaired by MNA Khalid Hussain Magsi.

During the meeting of the standing committee, Executive Director of the National Institute of Health (NIH) Maj Gen Aamer Ikram said that arrangements were being made to manufacture Covid-19 vaccine at the NIH.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2021

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