ISLAMABAD: As the country witnessed a surge in Covid-19 cases with positivity rate reaching 7.36 per cent, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Friday allowed all citizens over 18 years of age to get booster dose.

In a tweet, the NCOC said: “In today’s NCOC session, age limit for booster dose has been further reduced. From tomorrow onwards, citizens over 18 years will be eligible for free booster dose of their choice. Booster (one dose) will be administered after 6 months gap from complete vaccination.”

It stated that vaccine doses administered across the country over the past 24 hours stood at 786,835. So far 166,083,807 people have been inoculated — 33 per cent of total population and 50pc of eligible population.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan asked people to adopt safety measures to avoid Covid-19 and follow the standard operating procedures issued by the government to maintain social distancing.

In a tweet, he said: “Covid-19 vaccine update — more than 50 per cent of the above 12 years old population is fully vaccinated. Let us not stop here. More to do. Let us also not forget that with cases surging all over the country, we must wear masks, especially indoors.”

It may be mentioned that the campaign for booster doses started on December 1, 2021 for three groups — healthcare workers, individuals above the age of 50, and those having a weak immune system — and later the age limit was lowered to 30 years and above on December 20.

Earlier, the NCOC directed the provinces to strictly implement the existing non-pharmaceutical interventions, especially in transport, education and sectors with high social gatherings like restaurants and wedding halls. It also directed the provincial authorities to accelerate the vaccination drive and ramp up testing, including Rapid Antigen Testing.

According to the NCOC data, 3,567 new Covid cases and seven deaths — four in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, two in Sindh and one in Punjab — were reported over the past 24 hours, with 675 patients in critical condition. Total 48,449 tests were conducted during the last 24 hours and 3,567 people were infected with the virus, taking the positivity ratio to 7.36pc.

On September 10, 3480 cases reported across the country. The overall virus tally has risen to 1.315 million and death toll to 28,999. So far 1.260m people have recovered from the deadly virus since the pandemic hit the country in February 2020.

The government has not yet announced new restrictions but urged the people to follow precautionary measures.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2022

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