Covid jab mandatory for Hajj pilgrims

An estimated 200,000 people from Pakistan will go for the religious obligation this year

Our Correspondent February 08, 2021

The administration of Covid19 shots has been made mandatory for the pilgrims intending to perform Hajj, sources said.

An estimated 200,000 people from Pakistan will go for the religious obligation this year.

They need to be administered the Covid-19 dose before their departure to Saudi Arabia.

Sources said that pilgrims going for Hajj from all over the world will be vaccinated against coronavirus in their own countries. Hajj will be performed in the month of July this year.

The process of receiving applications for Hajj scheme at official level in Pakistan will begin this month while the flight operations for the purpose will start late May or early June.

The authorities will set up vaccination centres in major cities of the country to administer shots to the pilgrims.

A country of 220 million people, the pandemic has affected more than 500,000 residents in Pakistan and claimed nearly 12,000 lives. Last week, the first consignment of 500,000 shots of Covid vaccine produced by China’s Sinopharm reached the federal capital.

A Pakistan Air Force aircraft brought home the consignment which was received by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi from Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong at a ceremony at the Nur Khan Airbase.

According to a statement issued by the Foreign Office, Qureshi thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping for supporting Pakistan in the fight against the pandemic.

“This [consignment] is a testament to the friendship between China and Pakistan,” he said at the handover ceremony.

The government started the vaccination drive by administrating it to the frontline health workers first.

In addition to the Chinese vaccine, Pakistan has been pledged 17 million doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine under a global scheme to deliver coronavirus treatments to developing nations.

About six million doses will arrive by the end of March under the COVAX scheme, with the remainder due by mid-year.

Last week, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said that 70% of the country’s population will receive the Covid-19 vaccine by the end of current year.

“The vaccines will be administered in a phased process, with frontline healthcare workers being the first ones to receive the doses,” Dr Sultan said while addressing a presser at the National Command and Operation Centre, which is the nerve centre of government’s unified efforts against Covid-19 — as the drive kicked-off nationwide.

“The population eligible to receive the doses technically totals 100 million and only those above the age of 18 can receive it,” he added.

The SAPM said that in the first phase, the vaccination would be administered to about 0.5 million healthcare workers. In the second phase, it will be administered to about 9.5 million citizens above the age of 65 years.

“In the third phase, the doses will be given to 0.6 million general healthcare staffers and to the 6.3 million people between the age of 60 and 65.”

Dr Sultan said adequate doses will be available in the forthcoming months, adding that Pakistan was in contact with several countries regarding the jabs.

The SAPM maintained that the Sinopharm vaccine had proven efficacy of 79 to 86 per cent, adding that it has been authorised for use in China, Egypt, and the UAE following tests.

“It is a useful and beneficial vaccine,” he added.

He went on to add that Sinopharm was completely safe for use and so the masses should dismiss any reservation about it.

According to sources, by the end of this year, it is estimated that two billion people in 91 countries will be vaccinated against the virus.


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