ISLAMABAD: While Pakistan achieved another milestone in the fight against coronavirus by vaccinating over two million people in a day, Saudi Arabia has eased travel restrictions for the pilgrims from Pakistan intending to perform Umrah by revising the Covid-19 guidelines.

The development coincided with the national positivity rate dropping to 5.34 per cent across the country, where less than 3,000 cases were reported in a day after a one-month hiatus.

According to the fresh guidelines for pilgrims from Pakistan intending to perform Umrah, at the time of departure the travellers will be required to submit only a negative PCR test report that should not be more than 48 hours old.

The new directives will apply with effect from Feb 16 to all people intending to perform Umrah regardless of their vaccination or immunity status, Radio Pakistan reported.

A National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) document available with Dawn mentioned seven vaccines — Sinopharm, Sinovac, PakVac or Cansino, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Sputnik — were being administered to people across the country. It showed that 68pc population is vaccine eligible, with 153,615,747 (153.6m) of 228,567,704 (228.5m) people being eligible for vaccine.

The NCOC data showed 2,017,179 doses were administered during the past one day. Overall 187,996,736 (187.9m) doses have been administered. While 111,408,710 (111.4m) people have received at least one dose, 87,052,879 (87m) of them have become fully vaccinated. Besides, 3,114,587 (3.1m) people have also received booster shots.

As the country managed to administer record over 2m doses in a day, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan in a congratulatory message tweeted: “Highest daily vaccine doses administered yesterday in Pakistan. Over 2 million. Well done everyone!.”

However, according to the NCOC data, 37 patients died and 2,799 more cases were detected in past 24 hours. There were as many as 1,668 patients in critical care on Tuesday.

As the number of cases reported on a daily cases dropped, major cities including Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad reported less than 10pc positivity while seven cities mainly in northern parts of the country reported over 10pc positivity.

Karachi that had been showing around 40pc positivity just a few weeks ago reported 7.65pc positivity, Islamabad’s positivity rate fell to 8.53pc, Lahore 4.19, Rawalpindi reported 2.36pc, whereas 2.2pc positivity was recorded in Faisalabad.

The highest positivity rate was reported in Peshawar where 22.39pc samples tested positive. Gilgit reported 19.63pc, Mardan 19.24pc, Nowshera 15.48pc, Hyderabad 15.08pc, Abbottabad 12.44pc and Mirpur reported 10.61pc positivity.

Since its outbreak, the deadly virus has claimed 29,553 lives. Of those patients, 38pc aged above 81 years, followed by 21pc of those between 71 and 81 years.

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2022

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