Pakistan administered a record 1.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines on Tuesday, said Asad Umar, head of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) — the nerve centre of the country's coronavirus response — on Wednesday, as authorities continued to ramp up efforts to deal with a fourth wave of the contagion.
The NCOC shared in a tweet that a total of 1,590,309 doses were administered in the country on August 31 — the highest ever in a day.
Of these doses, over one million jabs were given to individuals receiving first shot of the vaccine and the remaining, adding up to a bit more than 0.5m, were administered to those getting their second shot.
Umar, who also holds the portfolio for planning, development and special initiatives minister, shared the same on his Twitter, saying that single day vaccinations had crossed the 1.5m mark for the first time in Pakistan.
"Yesterday (August 31), 1.59 million vaccinations were carried out. Both first dose and second dose vaccinations yesterday were highest ever with 1 million 71 thousand and 519 thousand respectively," he added.
In another tweet, he said the government had set a target of administering the first dose to 40 per cent of the population aged 18 and above in 24 large cities by the end of August, and it had been achieved in 20 main cities.
"Only cities to miss the target were Hyderabad, Mardan, Nowshera and Quetta," he said.
Umar said 35pc of the adult population in Pakistan had received at least the first vaccine dose.
Giving a province-wise breakdown of this percentage in a tweet, he said 69pc of the adult population in Islamabad had been administered the first dose, 51pc in Azad Kashmir, 39pc in Gilgit-Baltistan, 37pc in Punjab, 35pc in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 32pc in Sindh and 12pc in Balochistan.
Restrictions go into effect
The surge in vaccinations comes against the backdrop of the government placing multiple restrictions on unvaccinated people and opening vaccination for individuals over 17 years of age, starting from today (Wednesday).
The restrictions were announced after an NCOC meeting on August 24, under which vaccination was made obligatory for those employed in various sectors. The NCOC had made it mandatory for them to take the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine by Aug 31 and the second jab by Sep 30.
Moreover, the NCOC had decided in the meeting that only fully vaccinated people would be allowed to travel domestically and internationally from September 30 and the same condition would apply to incoming passengers.
The NCOC had announced that full vaccination by October 15 would be compulsory to use public transport facilities, visitors at shopping malls, hotels, restaurants and weddings would have to get the first dose by August 31 and second jab by September 30 to enter premises and students aged 17 and above should get their first dose by September 15 and second dose by October 15 and in case of non-compliance, they would not be allowed to enter educational institutions.
It had further said that people travelling on motorways would have to be vaccinated with first dose by September 15, travellers at highways must get their first Covid-19 dose by September 30 and second dose by October 30 to prevent travel bar and school van drivers should get their first dose by August 31.
In the same meeting, it was agreed that vaccination for for those aged between 17 and 18 would begin from September 1 and immunocompromised people aged above 12 would get a "specific vaccine" at certain centres from September 1.
As these restrictions go into effect today, Pakistan reports more than 100 Covid-19 deaths for the second straight day.
The country recorded 101 fatalities during the last 24 hours.
On August 30, the country had reported 118 deaths from the coronavirus.
According to the NCOC, 53,637 tests were conducted during the last 24 hours and 3,559 came back positive.
The total number of cases has risen to 1,163,688 and the death toll is 25,889.