The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Tuesday declared compliance with guidelines issued on the occasion of Eidul Azha, particularly the standard of operating procedures (SOPs) for the Eid prayer congregations as critical to contain disease spread.
The NCOC – the nerve centre of the government’s anti-Covid strategy – met here with its chairman, Planning Minister Asad Umar in the chair, to review the implementation of the SOPs for Eidul Azha and the spread of the pandemic in Karachi and Gilgit-Baltistan.
The forum was briefed that instructions had been issued to the provincial administrations of all the federating units to ensure implementation of the SOPs.
The forum was informed that some 500 oxygen cylinders and 30 ventilators were added in Gilgit-Baltistan.
The forum expressed satisfaction over additional steps taken by the Sindh government in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the spread of the Delta variant was reaching alarming levels in Karachi on the eve of the Eidul Azha.
The Sindh government said on Monday that the Covid-19 situation in the city was becoming serious, and warned people that ignoring precautionary measures during the holiday could make matters worse.
During the past 24 hours, the Covid-19 positivity rate in Karachi rose to 25.7%.
In Karachi, government hospitals had reached the saturation point, something not witnessed during previous waves, and even some private hospitals were refusing patients, said Dr Qaiser Sajjad, secretary general of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA).
“God have mercy on us, people are not taking this pandemic seriously. Such irresponsible behaviour on the Eid will make matters worse,” Sajjad told Reuters. Experts fear the Delta variant could spread during the holiday as people travel from cities like Karachi to their hometowns.
According to the Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences at the University of Karachi, there is 92.2% prevalence of the Delta variant in the city. Dr Seemin Jamali, the head of the Jinnah Hospital, told Reuters that 77 out of its 90 coronavirus beds were occupied and it was planned to add more.
The Eid holidays and the upcoming elections in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on July 25 could prove to be super spreader events, as government and opposition are busy holding big public gatherings, the two doctors warned.
Meanwhile, the forum was also briefed on the capacity building of vaccination facilities across the country. “At present, over half a million Covid-19 vaccines are being administered daily in the country,” the meeting was informed.
The forum announced that the vaccination centres across the country would remain closed only on first day of Eidul Azha (today).
The forum was told that huge stocks of Moderna vaccine were provided to the vaccination centres for inoculations of individuals and students going abroad.
Later, NCOC chief Asad Umar said in a tweet that for the first time more than 600,000 vaccines doses were administered in a single-day in the country. though, the number was encouraging, he added, there was a need for further enhancing this process.
Umar said that until a large portion of the population was vaccinated, social and economic restrictions were inevitable. In this regard he gave an example of the United Kingdom, where number of people needing hospitalisation was much less due to high rate of vaccination.
The government has been taking several measures to procure vaccines from various sources. On Tuesday, another consignment of China’s Sinopharm vaccine, comprising 700,000 doses was delivered to Pakistan, according to the health ministry.
Another consignment of 600,000 doses of Sinopharm would be delivered to the country on Wednesday (today). The ministry said that 2 million doses of Sinopharm vaccine were being brought to Pakistan in three consignments.
Meanwhile, in its daily update of the disease, the NCOC reported 37 deaths from coronavirus over the past 24 hours, taking the nationwide death toll from the disease since the pandemic broke out in February last year to 22,848.
The forum also reported 2,145 new Covid-19 cases, pushing the country’s overall caseload to 993,872, among them 921,095 people have fully recovered from the disease, including 1,029 recovered during the past 24 hours.
(WITH INPUT FROM AGENCIES)