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Federal Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Minister Asad Umar said on Tuesday that Pakistan has reached the objective of providing one million Covid-19 vaccine doses in a day.
The minister stated in a tweet: “[I am] delighted to inform that the target we had set for 1 million vaccinations in a day was crossed yesterday with 10 lakh 72 thousand vaccines. All federating units contributed with Punjab, Sindh, KP and Islamabad all doing record figures. Amazing performance by everybody involved.”
In another tweet, the minister offered an update on how much of the key cities’ populations had received at least one dosage of the vaccine.
“Islamabad has become the first city in Pakistan with a population of 1 million or more to get 50pc of its eligible population vaccinated with at least one dose,” he added. “Peshawar and Rawalpindi at 35pc, Faisalabad at 28pc, Lahore, Gujranwala, Sialkot and Sargodha at 27pc, Karachi at 26pc and Hyderabad at 25pc.”
According to the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) — the nerve centre of Pakistan’s Covid response — a total of 31,929,581 doses of Covid vaccinations have been provided across Pakistan as of Monday, with 1,072,342 doses administered the very day.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan also verified the milestone and praised “those who have made this possible”.
Earlier on Sunday, Umar, the NCOC chief, had declared that “Pakistan has exceeded 3 crore (30 million) immunizations.”
He had remembered a tweet saying it took the country 113 days to accomplish the milestone of giving 10m doses, another 28 days to meet the objective of 20m doses and finally, 16 more days to cross the 30m mark.
“Pace has suddenly risen. All six days this week were a record. 934,000 vaccines [were given] yesterday . In previous six days, 5m vaccines were done,” he had added in the tweet.
The Fourth wave
The stepping up of vaccine delivery comes amid a return of the Covid epidemic as the country battles to fight a fourth wave of the infection.
On the first day of this month (Sunday), Pakistan has recorded 5,026 cases within a stretch of previous 24 hours — the largest number of daily cases in the country since April 29 when 5,112 infections were detected.
Pakistan’s announcement of its highest number of coronavirus infections in over two months had come as a sad reminder of the deteriorating pandemic scenario, with Sindh falling under a lockdown over the weekend and reports of hospitals beginning to feel the strain.
The decision to impose the lockdown was taken during a provincial taskforce meeting presided over by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah last Friday, in view of the province continuing to report the highest number of cases among all federal units in recent days and warnings by health experts of the situation turning worse.
During the conference, physicians had warned that the Covid-19 situation in the region might turn “terrifying” and sounded the alarm about the rising burden on hospitals as well as the rapid development of the extremely contagious Delta form.
Yet, the Centre had resisted at the time the Sindh government’s decision to impose the lockdown, finally leading to the easing of some of the restrictions in the province.
However, the federal government itself chose on Monday to strengthen the limits for certain cities, where the situation was extremely acute.
Announcing that the limits had been amended for a number of cities, Umar had stated during a news conference that the government had taken “targeted and staggered” measures to stop the virus’s spread after considerable thinking and discussion in order to lessen the impact on the underprivileged parts.
Vying for vaccinations
Meanwhile, vaccination clinics in Karachi saw large lineups after the Sindh government declared that the mobile phone SIMs of unvaccinated individuals will be disabled and that they wouldn’t get their August wage.
There were also allegations of the vaccination procedure being disrupted by violence and property destruction at the Expo Centre and Khaliq Dina Hall – two of the major vaccination sites in Karachi.
Two incidents of pandemonium were also documented at vaccination clinics in the Old City Area, Lyari and various areas on the outskirts of Karachi, according to police.
This led the Sindh government to proclaim 11 Covid-19 vaccination stations in six districts of Karachi as “mass vaccination facilities” that will work round-the-clock throughout the week to minimize congestion at two mega vaccination points — the Expo Centre and Khaliq Dina Hall.
Later, the Sindh Health Department verified to Dawn.com that individuals in Karachi who did not posses computerised national identity cards (CNIC) were now eligible for getting Covid-19 vaccinations following on-the-spot biometric registration at the Mass Vaccination Centres in the city.