Karachi: Parents hold their child as a paramedic takes a swab sample from a window, to be tested for the coronavirus disease, at the School of Nursing in Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre on Wednesday.—Reuters
Karachi: Parents hold their child as a paramedic takes a swab sample from a window, to be tested for the coronavirus disease, at the School of Nursing in Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre on Wednesday.—Reuters

ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Wednesday decided to strictly implement the vaccination regime in the wake of the emergence of a new virulent Covid-19 variant, Omicron, that has spread in a number of countries.

As many as 40 call centres have been set up through which people who have skipped the second dose will be contacted while free booster doses are being administered to people who fall in the category of health workers, are over 50 years and are immunocompromised.

However, boosters can only be given after a period of six months since the last vaccine dose.

It has also been decided to deploy health teams at public spots to vaccinate individuals.

According to a statement, the NCOC discussed the pandemic’s curve chart data, national vaccine strategy and disease prevalence in the country.

The session was chaired by Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar and co-chaired by National Coordinator Maj Gen Mohammad Zafar Iqbal. It was also attended by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan while the provincial health ministers and chief secretaries took part in the session virtually.

“The forum was briefed about Covid-19 positivity ratio, disease prevalence, number of deaths and new admissions. It discussed in detail the overall city-wise Covid-19 vaccination process and agreed upon taking strict measures regarding obligatory vaccination regime. It was discussed during the meeting that the vaccination teams should be deployed at various public spots to vaccinate the individuals on the spot,” the statement said.

The NCOC said a special campaign would be run for implementation of the obligatory regime that started on Dec 1, and instructed the provinces and relevant authorities to adopt a zero tolerance policy with regards to obligatory vaccination regime.

The statement further said 40 call centres had been established to reach out to people who had not received their second jab.

Later, in their presentations, the provincial health ministers and chief secretaries briefed the forum about the initiatives taken to boost the vaccination campaign, improve testing numbers and set up call centres.

All provinces will start vaccination outreach campaign to achieve the immunisation targets.

According to the statement, the provincial representatives also emphasised the need for focussing on Omnicron, the new coronavirus variant, and suggested taking necessary measures at airports to check the vaccination status and testing of expatriates. “Basic SOPs, including wearing of masks, social distance and hand washing, should be ensured,” the statement added.

The NCOC data showed that nine people died and 414 more tested positive for Covid-19 over the last 24 hours. The number of active cases as of December 1 was recorded at 14,393 out of which 939 were admitted to hospitals across the country.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2021

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