Planning minister laments weak SOP compliance, stressing upon citizens their actions are directly linked to the spread of the pandemic
Employees of various sectors, including transportation and the restaurant industry, will not be allowed to work if they have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus by Aug. 31, Planning Minister Asad Umar announced on Thursday.
Addressing a press conference alongside Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan, he said that this decision was necessary to protect people’s lives and the economy. “We have already announced that only vaccinated people will be allowed to travel by air from Aug. 1,” he said. “Now the National Command and Operation Center, in collaboration with provincial governments, will require vaccinations for additional sectors.”
Referring to educational institutions, he said the lives of students could not be put in danger. Therefore, he said, teachers will have to get vaccinated by Aug. 1 to be allowed to perform their duties. Pakistan is set to end its summer vacations for educational institutions from Aug. 2.
The deadline for the following “high-risk” sectors, he said, would be Aug. 31:
- Transporters, including personnel involved in picking and dropping students
- Students who are over 18
- Personnel of law enforcement agencies
- All government employees
- Staff of wedding and reception halls
- Staff of restaurants and markets and hotels
The minister stressed that forcing the vaccinations on these people was “not a punishment.” Instead, he said, this showed that the government held them in high esteem. “For the sake of your health, you are being prioritized, which would allow both the economy and your family to prosper,” he said, adding that if the situation did not improve by Aug. 31, the NCOC would announce additional sectors that required mandatory vaccinations.
Umar praised Pakistan’s ongoing vaccination drive, claiming he was positive it would soon emerge as a global example. He said that earlier this week, authorities had broken a record by administering over 700,000 doses of various vaccines in a single day. “Just a day later, they broke that record and administered about 850,000 doses of vaccines,” he said.
The planning minister also urged citizens to continue adhering to government-issued guidelines to curb a potentially disastrous situation. “The situation [with the fourth wave] we are seeing right now should make it clear to people that any results we see are a direct result of our actions,” he said, recalling that in Ramzan people had followed SOPs and avoided large crowds over the Eidul Fitr break, which had allowed the country to overcome the third wave of the pandemic.
“Our actions are directly linked to the spread of the virus,” he reiterated, adding that the situation in Karachi was especially troubling. The provincial capital of Sindh this week hit 30 percent positivity, provoking calls for a citywide lockdown to curb the spread of the pandemic.
“The Sindh government is taking the correct actions in trying to restrain the dangerous situation developing in Karachi,” he said, adding that the federal government would provide all necessary assistance to them.
Summarizing data compiled by the NCOC, he said the existing SOP compliance was the best in Islamabad at 56.4 percent. Meanwhile, he said, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa was reporting 46 percent compliance; Punjab 38 percent; and Sindh and Balochistan 33 percent each.
Earlier, Dr. Sultan warned that the situation in Karachi was becoming “dangerous,” adding that the burden on hospitals in the metropolis was increasing rapidly. He urged people to follow all health guidelines to control the spread of the pandemic.