Punjab plans to vaccinate 30pc population: health minister

Published May 10, 2021
In this file photo, Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid addresses a press conference in Lahore. — DawnNewsTV/File
In this file photo, Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid addresses a press conference in Lahore. — DawnNewsTV/File

LAHORE: Punjab Minister for Health Dr Yasmin Rashid says the provincial government has a plan to vaccinate 25 to 30pc of its population to create a shield against the spread of the coronavirus. Issuing a warning that the pandemic in South Punjab is gradually increasing, she gave the alarming figure of 23pc infection rate in some areas of the region.

Punjab is currently giving over 100,000 vaccine jabs a day and it would increase this capacity to 216,000 soon after Eidul Fitr with a raise in the number of vaccination centres from current 146 vaccination centres to 296. This capacity will further be enhanced to vaccinate over 436,000 people per day. Vaccination of some 9,000 frontline policemen has also started.

Speaking at a news conference at Chief Minister’s Secretariat on Sunday, Ms Rashid said Punjab had secured an ample stock of vaccine and expecting 250,000 doses supply from Islamabad as its share from the COVAX AstraZeneca. Punjab has also completed its procurement process to purchase vaccines worth Rs1.5bn.

Answering a question that she had bashed the World Health Organisation (WHO) for delaying the vaccine in her previous presser and even suggested that there were controversies around AstraZeneca, Dr Rashid said it seemed her complaint had worked and the WHO started supplying vaccine to Pakistan.

She said the WHO had supplied 1.2m doses and was expected to fulfill its commitment of providing 44m doses to Pakistan.

Says infection rate has spiked in south Punjab

About the controversies around AstraZeneca vaccine, Dr Rashid said the Pakistan government had called advisories and cleared through research papers that the vaccine would have minimum side effects.

“AstraZeneca vaccine will be injected to women of over 40 years of age and men over 18 years of age,” she explained.

The health minister added that proposed 44m doses from the COVAX system and 30m procured by the government would help Pakistan to be in a much better position.

“Every vaccine coming in counts,” she stressed.

The health minister said though the number of the Covid-19 patients was reducing, the need to strictly observe the standard operating procedures (SOPs) was increasing, stressing that the masses should observe this Eidul Fitr with complete simplicity.

The coronavirus infection rate in Punjab was 13pc while 26 districts were posting over 8pc infection rate.

During the last 24 hours, 1,638 new cases were reported while 81 people lost their battle for life.

The health minister said the government conducted some 15,000 tests and found that the infection rate in South Punjab was gradually increasing. Rahim Yar Khan reported 23pc infection rate, Bhakkar 22pc, Chiniot 20pc, Chakwal 18pc, Faisalabad 17pc, Sargodha 16pc and Lahore 15pc.

Explaining the corona patients’ beds and ventilators position in the province, Ms Rashid said the DHQ and THQ hospitals had 2,685 beds and 98 ventilators and 584 beds and 90 ventilators were currently available. She said some 41pc high dependency unit (HDU) beds were lying vacant, Rawalpindi had 60pc HDU beds available, Gujrat 70pc, Lahore 67pc, Faisalabad 57pc, Multan 38pc, Bahawalpur 55pc and Jhelum has 75pc beds vacant for the Covid patients. She said good news was that the number of patients getting cured and returning home had matched the number of patients coming to hospitals for admission.

Besides strict implementation of the SOPs, the minister said, some 274,000 people were under smart lockdown in different cities in the province. She urged the traders as well as people to follow the lockdown notification in letter and spirit and that only daily-use items shops and services would be available.

The health minister made it clear that there was no dearth of oxygen in Punjab, which had entered into a tender process to procure oxygen generation plants to be installed at major hospitals. She said the industries department would also provide oxygen during the Eid holidays. She said the government had already banned elective surgeries in the public hospitals in the province.

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2021

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