• Govt decides to intensify vaccination efforts
• Airports attain 100pc rapid antigen tests capacity
• Guideline issued for Pfizer vaccine use
ISLAMABAD: As Pakistan records this year’s lowest positivity ratio of Covid-19, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Tuesday decided to intensify vaccination efforts by recommending the mechanism adopted for teachers’ vaccination to all other ministries as well.
Also, the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) issued an advisory on Pfizer vaccine.
In addition to vaccination efforts, the authorities also managed to boost the country’s testing capacity at the airports to ensure rapid antigen tests (RAT) of 100 per cent passengers.
According to the NCOC data, 1,383 more cases were reported from across the country in the past one day, with the positivity ratio calculated at 2.95pc.
Fifty-three patients died while the number of active cases stood at 46,190. Of them, 3,446 patients were hospitalised where 402 ventilators were in use, indicating the number of patients in serious condition.
According to a document available with Dawn, the lowest infection rate was recorded on Oct 29, 2020 when 697 cases were detected and the positivity ratio was calculated at 2.49pc.
During the current wave, the highest infection rate of 10.1pc was recorded on April 19 whereas the highest ever positivity ratio of 22.24pc since the outbreak of the pandemic was recorded on June 1, 2020.
At the NCOC meeting, which was presided over by Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar and co-chaired by National Coordinator Lt Gen Hamooduz Zaman Khan, participants expressed their satisfaction over the current situation of the pandemic in the country.
The meeting was also attended by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan.
About vaccine administration, the participants were informed that 450,000 of two million teachers had already been inoculated, but the pace was slow in other ministries and divisions.
Testing facility at airports
The NCOC suggested adoption of a similar mechanism in other ministries to ensure impactful and timely administration of vaccines to all employees.
The forum was told that the airports had attained the capacity of carrying out 6,000 rapid antigen tests on a daily basis.
“Airports in the country are receiving 27 flights per day with more than 4,500 passengers on an average (around 172 persons per flight). Because of the comprehensive mechanism, 388 positive patients have been detected upon arrival in Pakistan,” the statement said, adding that an adequate system of track, trace and quarantine was also functioning side by side.
The meeting also noted that 22,924 individuals had entered Pakistan from Afghanistan on foot and 58 of them tested positive for the virus. Subsequently, they were quarantined in government-run facilities.
The NCOC statement said genome testing was performed on 421 people and 28 individuals were found infected by various mutants.
Besides, the meeting was told all Nadra centres (more than 600 across the country) had been issuing vaccination certificates since June 5 while around 5,000 e-Sahulat branches would also start issuing (certificates) from next week.
The NCOC was informed that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had started conducting ‘Safe Tourism Training Workshops’ in order to open the tourism sector and a similar model would be replicated in Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir.
Guidelines for Pfizer vaccine
Meanwhile, the Ministry of National Health Services issued an advisory on Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday.
Over 100,000 doses of the American vaccine have arrived under Covax, which had pledged free vaccines for 20pc population of Pakistan.
According to the guidelines, PfizerBioNTech vaccine requires special handling to maintain its effectiveness.
“Store vaccine in an ultra-cold freezer, thermal shipping container, freezer or refrigerator. Check and record storage unit temperatures each workday. Dry ice is needed to maintain proper temperatures in the thermal shipping container. Ensure staff has proper personal protective equipment and is trained to handle dry ice safely. It should be given to individuals aged 18 years and older who are clinically extremely vulnerable or at a high risk of severe illness from Covid-19, those who have organ transplantation, having kidney, liver issues can also get the vaccine. Moreover women who are pregnant and lactating can receive PfizerBioNTech vaccine,” the advisory stated.
However, the vaccine cannot be given to individuals having fever at the time of coming for vaccination. Similarly, patients with active Covid-19 cannot be inoculated either. Those with mild symptoms can receive the vaccine once they complete their isolation period. Those who have already received some other Covid-19 vaccine cannot get Pfizer and those with a history of severe allergic reaction should also avoid inoculation, according to the ministry.
So far, 9,559,910 (over 9.5 million) doses of various vaccines having been administered to people across the country.
Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2021