PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided that it will block the mobile phone SIM cards of the people in five districts of Peshawar division if they don’t get themselves vaccinated against novel coronavirus by the end of the current month.
It urged the residents of Peshawar, Mohmand, Khyber, Charsadda and Nowshera districts to receive the shots of the Covid-19 vaccine before the expiry of the Aug 31 deadline.
The decision comes amid 20 more deaths from the virus in the province, mostly in Peshawar district.
According to a health department report, nine people lost life to Covid-19 in Peshawar, four in Abbottabad, three in Kohat and two each in Swat and Bannu districts.
Also in the day, the province recorded 559 new coronavirus cases. Currently, it has 7,379 active cases of the infection.
Sets Aug 31 deadline for inoculation amid 20 more deaths from coronavirus in province
The pandemic-related situation and vaccination rates in the province were reviewed during a high-level meeting, which chief secretary Dr Kazim Niaz chaired here on Friday.
According to commissioner of the Peshawar division Riaz Khan Mehsud, the meeting decided to increase Covid-19 vaccination rates in high-risk districts.
He told Dawn that the relevant authorities had been told to block mobile phone SIM cards of the unvaccinated residents in five districts after Aug 31.
“We are starting a door-to-door Covid-19 vaccination drive in Peshawar division today (Saturday). The mobile SIMs of those, who fail to receive the vaccine jabs by Aug 31, will be blocked,” he said.
The commissioner said the directives had been issued to the deputy commissioners and district health officers of those five districts for the formulation of vaccination programme during Friday’s meeting, which was also attended by the secretaries of local government, health and other relevant departments.
“The district administrations will ensure the enforcement of Covid-19 SOPs, including the use of face mask, adherence to social and distancing rules, and hand hygiene by the people, to prevent the spread of the virus,” he said.
Meanwhile, the health officials told the meeting that 50 per cent of the coronavirus cases were reported in the districts, where people were very highly mobile.
The chief secretary ordered the formulation of strategies to scale up the Covid-19 vaccination by 40 per cent by the end of the month.
The officials told him that the people, who hadnt received the vaccine jabs until now, were unlikely to come to inoculation centres of their own free will, so the blocking of their mobile phone SIM cards would force them into vaccinating themselves.
They said the self-motivated people had already gotten the vaccine shots.
The officials said the door-to-door vaccination campaign in Peshawar division would involve 640 workers and would target the people not vaccinated against the virus.
They said the people weren’t coming to 800 vaccinations centres in the province in desired numbers.
The chief secretary directed the deputy commissioners to engage social workers and elders at the community level for vaccination of the unvaccinated people in the districts with less than 30 per cent inoculation rates.
The officials said the decision to block SIM cards came after the failure of the district administrations and health department to improve Covid-19 vaccination rates despite many initiatives.
They said Peshawar had 12.6 per cent and Nowshera and Charsadda less than five per cent coronavirus positivity rate but the people of those districts were highly mobile.
The officials said a total of 600,000 people in Peshawar had been vaccinated against the virus, while the rest would receive the vaccine shots before the start of next month.
They said Mansehra, Chitral, Abbottabad, Dera Ismail Khan and Swat districts had reported more than 40 per cent Covid-19 immunisation rate.
The officials also said that the health department was carrying out a special vaccination drive in Mardan, Karak and southern districts in view of the high coronavirus incidence.
Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2021