Federal Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Minister Asad Umar announced on Tuesday that Pakistan had hit the target of administering one million Covid-19 vaccination doses in a day.
The minister said in a tweet: “[I am] happy to report that the target we had set for 1 million vaccinations in a day was crossed yesterday with 10 lakh 72 thousand vaccinations. All federating entities contributed with Punjab, Sindh, KP and Islamabad all doing record numbers. Amazing performance by all involved.”
In another tweet, the minister gave an update on how much of the main cities’ populations had received at least one dose 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 stated. “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 vaccines had been administered 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 confirmed the milestone and congratulated “all who have made this happen”.
Earlier on Sunday, Umar, the NCOC head, had announced that “Pakistan has crossed 3 crore (30 million) vaccinations.”
He had recalled a tweet that it took the country 113 days to achieve the milestone of administering 10m doses, another 28 days to achieve the target of 20m doses and then, 16 more days to cross the 30m mark.
“Pace has rapidly increased. All six days this week were a record. 934,000 vaccinations [were administered] yesterday . In last six days, 5m vaccinations were done,” he had said in the tweet.
The fourth wave
The ramping up of vaccine administration comes after a resurgence of the Covid pandemic as the country struggles to tackle a fourth wave of the virus.
On the first day of this month (Sunday), Pakistan had reported 5,026 cases during a span of past 24 hours — the highest number of daily cases in the country since April 29 when 5,112 infections were reported.
Pakistan’s reporting of its highest number of coronavirus cases in nearly two months had come as a grim reminder of the worsening pandemic situation, with Sindh going under a lockdown over the weekend and reports of hospitals beginning to feel the burden.
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 meeting, doctors had warned that the Covid-19 situation in the province could turn “terrifying” and sounded the alarm over the increasing pressure on hospitals as well as the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.
Over the past few days, doctors working in Karachi’s hospitals had also been issuing warnings of a surge in Covid-19 cases, particularly among individuals who have not yet been vaccinated — and who account for over 85 per cent of admissions to ICUs in recent days, according to a study by the Sindh health department.
However, the federal government itself opted on Monday to tighten the restrictions for selected cities, where the situation was particularly bad.
Announcing that the restrictions had been revised for a number of cities, Umar had said during a press conference that the government had taken “targeted and staggered” decisions to curb the virus’s spread after much thought and deliberation in order to minimise the impact on the poor sections.
Vying for vaccines
Meanwhile, vaccination centres in Karachi saw long queues after the Sindh government announced that that mobile phone SIMs of unvaccinated people would be blocked and that they wouldn’t get their August salary.
There were also reports of the vaccination process being marred by violence and property damage at the Expo Centre and Khaliq Dina Hall — two of the largest vaccination facilities in Karachi.
Two incidents of chaos were also reported at vaccination centres in the Old City Area, Lyari and some areas on the outskirts of Karachi, according to police.
This led the Sindh government to declare 11 Covid-19 vaccination centres in six districts of Karachi as “mass vaccination facilities” that will operate round-the-clock throughout the week to prevent overcrowding at two mega vaccination points — the Expo Centre and Khaliq Dina Hall.
Meanwhile, the Sindh chief minister also directed deputy commissioners across Karachi to set up more vaccination centres in their respective districts, while inoculation facilities were also being set up at mosques and imambargahs, according to Rasheed Channa, spokesperson to the provincial chief executive.
Later, the Sindh Health Department confirmed to Dawn.com that citizens in Karachi who did not posses computerised national identity cards (CNIC) were now eligible for receiving Covid-19 vaccines after on-the-spot biometric registration at the Mass Vaccination Centres in the city,