ISLAMABAD: Chief secretaries of the relevant administrative units have called on people to desist from visiting tourist destinations in the northern areas and Azad Kashmir, reminding them the areas were closed till May 16 and that they would be turned back if they still travelled.
On the other hand, one million more doses of Covid-19 vaccine arrived in Pakistan from China on Sunday as the number of people being vaccinated daily reached 200,000.
Meanwhile, 118 patients lost their lives to Covid-19 and another 3,785 tested positive in a single day.
During the meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), the chief secretaries of administrative units that have popular tourist destinations requested the forum to remind everyone that tourist areas were closed till May 16 and any tourist still going there would be refused entry.
Talking to Dawn, Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) spokesperson Sajid Shah said Pakistan International Airlines’ special plane brought one million doses of Sinovac vaccine from China on Sunday.
“Transportation of the vaccine has been expedited in order to vaccinate maximum people and save them from the third wave of the pandemic. More vaccines will arrive during the next few weeks,” he said.
According to a statement, a special NCOC session, chaired by Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar and Lt Gen Hamooduz Zaman Khan, was held on Sunday to review the mobility control measures being implemented across the country from May 8 to 16. All chief secretaries were also in attendance.
“Review of SOPs implementation during 8th to 16th May was carried out. During this duration, all markets, businesses and shops will remain closed except essential services including grocery stores, pharmacies/medical stores, medical facilities and vaccination centres, vegetable, fruit, chicken and meat shops, bakeries, petrol pumps, food takeaways and e-commerce (home delivery), utility services (electricity, natural gas, internet, cellular networks/telecom, call centres) and media,” the statement said.
It further said that there would be a complete ban on tourism for both locals and outsiders.
“All tourist resorts, formal and informal picnic spots, public parks, shopping malls, all hotels and restaurants in/around tourist/picnic spots will remain closed during this duration,” it added.
The statement said bookings of all hotels had been cancelled and ban on inter-provincial, inter-city and intra-city public transport would be imposed, except on private vehicles, taxis/cabs, rickshaws with 50pc occupancy.
“The forum showed concern on the reported violations of instructions in various cities and instructed all provinces to ensure complete compliance of instructions with full administrative control,” the statement concluded.
Later, Asad Umar, in his tweet, said: “In NCOC meeting today, chief secretary’s from Federating units which have popular tourist destinations, requested to remind everyone that tourist areas are closed from 8th to 16th, so please do not come, or you will be turned back. #StayHomeStaySafe.”
A day earlier Mr Umar, who also heads the NCOC, had said danger was higher than ever.
“The need for caution is clear. The danger is higher than ever and knocking at our doors. Need the country to unite in response and achieve once again what we achieved in the first wave, for which we received global praise. Inshallah we will do it again, together,” he had tweeted.
“Even a small country like Nepal saw an exponential rise in cases going up above 7,000 daily. Deaths also rose sharply. You can see the entire region is exploding with cases and deaths, in the latest covid wave. We have alhamdulillah been spared the worst by timely decisions,” he further said in another tweet.
Meanwhile, according to the NCOC data, 118 people breathed their last and 3,785 contracted the virus throughout the country in a single day.
As many as 652 patients were on ventilators while the number of active cases was 81,830. Besides, 5,416 persons were admitted to hospitals across the country.
WHO registration of Chinese vaccine
Sinopharm has become the first Chinese vaccine and overall the sixth to be given approval by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for emergency use.
Speaking on the development, an official of the NHS ministry, requesting not to be named, said a segment of the society had been critical of the Chinese vaccine, Sinopharm, and questioned its efficacy.
“However I am sure now they will not be able to speak about it as WHO has listed it for emergency use. The Sinopharm vaccine is produced by Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products Co Ltd, a subsidiary of China National Biotec Group (CNBG). Now there is also a Chinese vaccine which is listed by WHO so people should stop criticising Chinese products,” he said.
It may be mentioned here that Sinopharm vaccine was the first to arrive in Pakistan.
WHO had listed Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for emergency use on Dec 31, 2020; two AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccines on Feb 15, 2021, produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio (Republic of Korea) and the Serum Institute of India; Covid-19 vaccine Ad26.COV2.S developed by Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) on March 12, 2021 and the Moderna vaccine (mRNA 1273) for emergency use in last week of April.
Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2021