21pc of Islamabad's target population vaccinated against Covid-19: Asad Umar

Published May 28, 2021
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar addresses a conference in Islamabad. — DawnnewsTV
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar addresses a conference in Islamabad. — DawnnewsTV

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said on Friday that 21 per cent of Islamabad's target population had been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Addressing the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce in the capital, Umar said the city had reached a point in terms of vaccinations where the "first rays of sunlight had started to appear".

He said the inoculation campaign was progressing comparatively better in Islamabad than in other parts of the country, adding: "21pc of Islamabad's target population has gotten itself vaccinated."

The "bad news", he said, was that there was capacity for more vaccinations than this, adding that "the faster we do this work, the faster we will permanently escape [this situation]."

He said the current vaccination capacity in Islamabad was 20,000 shots daily while the average number of first dose administrations was 7,000 shots.

The minister said there was a need to run a vaccination campaign with help of the businessmen and traders because they stood to benefit the most from it.

Umar gave the example of Massachusetts, which according to him was completely lifting restrictions and going towards reopening because it had reached a certain stage of the vaccination process.

"It is only a matter of a few weeks, not months and years when we can completely escape this [situation in Islamabad].

"The faster we increase vaccinations, the sooner we will get the opportunity to remove all restrictions," said the federal minister, adding that he wanted to see no restrictions in place on Eidul Azha so businesses and traders could be free to work.

"I believe the NCOC will provide you full help and if your leadership is present then we want to send a message through you [...] your real help is needed in vaccinating your employees in your businesses," said Umar.

He also added that coordination with the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce was needed due to many people commuting from the city to Islamabad for work. "I have no doubt, we have the vaccine in our hand and vaccination centres are built so we can set up vaccination centres in the markets as well."

Umar said a meeting of the NCOC would be called next week to launch a national campaign where the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, trade associations and other stakeholders would be invited to work together on vaccinations.

The federal minister also said that the NCOC discussed the opening up of amusement parks during Friday morning's session and it was decided to give permission to open them with limited numbers and compliance of Covid-19 standard operating procedures.

He added that in a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee last week, he had highlighted that some sectors and industries such as restaurants, marriage halls and education institutions had faced "exceptional injury" due to Covid restrictions.

"I said that we should announce a special package for the people associated with these sectors because the pain they've suffered has benefited society."

Umar said the finance minister had accepted this proposal and a decision was made that a package would be formulated by the relevant ministers and bodies.

The federal minister also highlighted Pakistan's economic performance during the Covid-19 pandemic and pointed out that while India had contracted and many fast-growing economies had also seen negative growth, "we more or less [achieved] breakeven."

He said people were shocked over the current growth estimate of 3.94pc, adding that the Planning Commission had given a growth estimate of 4.8pc for next year.

Umar credited the growth estimates to the government's balanced decision-making.

He said the decisions Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken to deal with the situation during the Covid-19 pandemic reflected the thinking of "a mother for her children".

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