• Citizens over 60 allowed walk-in vaccination
• 500,000 more doses reach Islamabad
• Army, Rangers to help LEAs on provinces’ request
• Ban on inter-provincial transport extended
ISLAMABAD: The day Pakistan saw record 157 deaths from Covid-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) decided to open walk-in vaccination facility for citizens aged 60 and above.
On the other hand, the forum also decided to allow the army, Frontier Constabulary (FC) and Rangers to assist law enforcement agencies (LEAs) in enforcing standard operating procedures (SOPs) if requested by the provincial governments.
The walk-in vaccination facility has been allowed for citizens in the age bracket of 60 and 64 years after 500,000 more doses of Sinopharm vaccine arrived from China.
This was announced by Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar who tweeted, “Starting tomorrow, Sunday, walk in vaccination for those who are between 60 to 64 years old will be started. Walk in for 65 and above has already been open. All those 60 and above who are registered go to your vaccination center and get vaccinated. Vaccination open on Sunday also.”
The NCOC also extended the two-day ban on inter-provincial transport (Saturdays and Sundays) till May 17. Besides, it said 6,901 oxygenated beds had been arranged to meet the rising number of patients and also decided to critically monitor oxygen supply.
According to data, 157 people lost their battle against the deadly virus in a single day – the highest number ever recorded since the coronavirus was first detected in the country in Feb 2020.
Earlier, the highest count of casualties was 153 reported on June 20 last year.
The NCOC also revealed that 5,908 more people got infected in a single day, which was the second highest figure in the current year.
As many as 560 ventilators were occupied across the country on Saturday, with over 80pc in use in Gujranwala, Multan and Lahore. The number of active cases rose to 86,529 out of which 5,561 were under treatment in hospitals.
The NCOC meeting, which was presided over by Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, deliberated upon the proposed lockdowns in high virus prevalence cities with stakeholders.
The participants were of the view that if cases continued to rise, critical care facilities in that particular city would become overwhelmed.
“The decision on lockdown will be taken after discussions with all stakeholders. The purpose of the lockdowns will be to contain the spread of the disease through implementation of SOPs,” the forum’s statement said.
“A few proposed restrictions will include closure of markets and malls, less essential services, ban on inter-city public transport and shutting down of education institutions,” it added.
The NCOC also said the army, FC and Rangers would assist law enforcement agencies on the request of provincial governments.
It was informed that 500,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine were due to arrive on Saturday evening through a special PAF plane from China after which walk-in facility for citizens aged 60 and above would be allowed.
The doses later reached Islamabad at 8pm and were shifted to a warehouse at the National Institute of Health.
According to the NCOC statement, “a detailed briefing was also held on supply of oxygen to healthcare facilities. A total of 6,901 beds have been added to meet the increased requirements due to a surge in Covid-19 cases. Oxygen supply is also being critically monitored. The forum also appreciated NDMA’s efforts in enhancing healthcare facilities; so far 2,811 oxygen beds, 431 ventilators, 1,196 oxygen cylinders, 500 Bipap and 1,504 finger pulse oxymeters have been inducted in the existing healthcare system by the NDMA.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences Joint Executive Director Dr Minhajus Siraj said the hospital had reached a maximum capacity and scores of Covid-19 patients were waiting in the emergency room and occupying oxygen points.
In a letter written to the head of the hospital and available with Dawn, Dr Siraj said due to heavy load of coronavirus patients in the indoor and emergency area of the hospital, oxygen pressure (consumption) has increased manifold.
He said it had been decided to postpone elective/planned surgeries immediately and shift those patients admitted to the Covid-19 intensive care units (ICUs) to other ICUs where oxygen pressure was maintainable. The letter also said the national health services ministry would be approached to strengthen other facilities in the federal capital for patients infected by Covid-19.
Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2021