Planning minister claims Pakistan has vaccinated 1 million citizens thus far and urges people over 50 to register and get immunized
Planning Minister Asad Umar on Tuesday claimed that coronavirus statistics show “initial signs of positivity slowing,” as he urged eligible age groups to register and get vaccinated against the pandemic.
On Tuesday morning, the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) reported 3,953 new infections after administering 46,665 tests, a positivity ratio of 8.47 percent; a day earlier, the national positivity ratio had been reported at 9.97 percent. Despite the reduced positivity, the country reported a death toll of 103 in the past 24 hours—a statistic that Umar warned would likely remain at high levels for “some time.”
“Increased restrictions, broader lockdowns and stronger SOP [standard operating procedure] enforcement starting to have effect,” he posted on Twitter. “Initial signs of positivity slowing. However, due to momentum of last two weeks patients on critical care and mortality will stay at high levels for some time,” he said. “Please follow SOPs and be safe,” he added.
A day earlier, Punjab Health Minister Dr. Yasmin Rashid had also hailed the declining positivity ratio, but warned that it was too early to claim victory, as the pandemic remained a potent threat. She had urged the public to avail vaccinations to help the country achieve “herd immunity” and overcome COVID-19.
In a separate posting on Twitter, Umar also stressed the importance of inoculations to overcome the pandemic. “Total vaccinations carried out so far crossed 1 million,” he said. “More than 76,000 vaccinations were carried out yesterday. Total number of people registered so far is now over 2 million. 600,000 health care workers and more than 1.4 million 50+ [have been registered],” he said, and urged anyone over-50 to register and get vaccinated.
Pakistan’s vaccination drive has been plagued by slow registrations and a stuttering supply, which has relied primarily on charitable donations from neighboring China. Islamabad received its first procured dose of Chinese vaccines last week, with authorities vowing to secure more in the coming weeks. Both Sindh and Punjab provinces have announced that they are allocating Rs. 150 million to procure vaccines for their own populations as part of efforts to expedite the immunization drive.
Pakistan last week became one of the first countries to allow the private sales of coronavirus vaccines, with two doses of Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccine available at private hospitals for around Rs. 12,000.