• Fears lockdown will plunge country into crisis
• Minister hints at restrictions in some cities
• Asad for decision on vaccination from NCOC platform
• New cases cross 5,000 mark
ISLAMABAD: While Prime Minister Imran Khan criticised the Sindh government for imposing lockdown, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Sunday hinted at restrictions in some cities to curtail the spread of Covid-19.
While answering telephone calls from the public in a live TV programme, the prime minister, indirectly referring to the Sindh government, said: “If you cannot feed people at their homes, then you have no right to impose lockdown.”
He said his government had strived hard and took the country out of economic emergency, therefore any further curbs would plunge the motherland into another crisis, adding that the Centre would not go for a lockdown.
“The economy has come out of crisis and thus we will not let it be destroyed again,” he added.
PM Khan again urged people to observe standard operating procedures (SOPs) and adopt precautionary measures like wearing masks in public and avoiding closed-door meetings.
He called on the Sindh government to review its decision of placing a lockdown in the province.
On the other hand, Planning Minister Asad Umar hinted at enforcing curbs in some cities as over 5,000 positive cases were reported in a single day after a gap of three months.
Without naming Sindh, which decided to keep 11 vaccination centres of Karachi open round the clock, the minister said all decisions about vaccination should be taken from the platform of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) so that the country did not face any vaccine supply issue.
Addressing a press conference along with Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan on Sunday, he said Pakistan had administered over 30 million doses of vaccine across the country, with the last 10 million being given in just 16 days.
Mr Umer said some cities might face restrictions after a meeting with the prime minister on Monday (today).
He said all possible steps would be taken to curtail the spread of the virus while ensuring livelihoods did not suffer.
He said situation in a number of countries was aggravating, with India bearing the brunt of coronavirus a few months ago.
“Cases are increasing in Afghanistan, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand and other countries, and the reason is the delta (Indian) variant. Earlier the UK variant was spreading rapidly, but now the Indian strain was more infectious,” he said.
The minister said people should cooperate with the government by following SOPs, warning that the Indian strain was most virulent and if one person was infected, the entire family ended up contracting the virus.
“You may have aged people in the house, so be careful. We have been spending Rs200 billion on procuring the vaccine. Around 3,000 vaccination centres have been set up across the country and people are also being inoculated through mobile vaccination centres. We have administered 30 million doses, with the last 10 million given in just 16 days” he said, adding that in the last one week, five million people received the jabs.
Mr Umar said during the last six days, the country broke a vaccination record every day, administering 934,000 doses in a single day.
“Pakistan has crossed 3 crore vaccinations. The first crore took 113 days. The second 28 days and the 3rd only 16 days. Pace has rapidly increased. All 6 days this week were a record. 9 lakh 34 thousand vaccinations yesterday. In last 6 days 5 million vaccinations were done,” the minister later tweeted.
Asad Umar once again appealed to masses to get vaccinated at the earliest. “The United States, the United Kingdom and other countries were facing difficulties because decisions were being made from different platforms. In Pakistan, however, the NCOC had been set up which had representation not only from the civilian and military sides but also from the provinces. Because of this platform, collective decisions were made and everyone benefitted. The NCOC has been successful for the last 15 months and we need to go collectively,” he added.
Apparently his remarks came in response to a decision of the Sindh government which declared 11 Covid-19 vaccination centres in six districts of Karachi as “mass vaccination facilities” that will operate round the clock throughout the week to prevent overcrowding at the two mega vaccination points — the Expo Centre and Khaliqdina Hall.
According to Dawn.com, the decision was notified after vaccination centres at the Expo Centre and Khaliqdina Hall were overrun by people for the second consecutive day on Sunday. The mass vaccination centres will be at the Dow Ojha Hospital in East district; Khaliqdina Hall, JPMC and Lyari General Hospital in South district; Children Hospital, SG Hospital New Karachi, SG Hospital Liaquatabad in Central district; Sindh Government Qatar Hospital in West district; SG Hospital Murad Memon Goth in Malir district and SG Hospital Saudabad in Korangi district.
Mr Umar said the decision on vaccination should be made from the platform of the NCOC as it kept under consideration the amount of doses required and how many should be procured in a month.
“We should have a vaccine inventory so that we know how many vaccines are required. During the last six months we faced a delay of vaccine for just four days as a shipment was delayed. Therefore, I suggest that all such decisions should be taken from a centralised platform,” he added.
The minister said centralisation was necessary and the NCOC had nothing to do with politics.
Meanwhile, according to the forum’s data, 62 people died and 5,026 more were infected in the last 24 hours. Last time the number of cases crossed 5,000 was in April 29.
Published in Dawn, August 2nd , 2021