Sindh orders 2m vaccine doses
15-day closure of schools suggested at taskforce meeting
Sindh Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah announced on Friday that the Sindh government had placed an order for the purchase of two million doses of the singledose CanSino Biologics vaccine.
Addressing a press conference, he said the Sindh government would cut development funds and other expenses to procure the vaccine doses so that the population of the entire province could be protected from the deadly disease.
“The Sindh government wanted to procure the vaccine directly from China and had even allocated funds for the purpose, but wasn’t able to purchase the jabs due to delays by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) in fixing the price of vaccine doses,” he added. “However, Drap has now fixed the price and we have placed an order for two million doses.”
Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab, who was also present on the occasion, later tweeted, “The Sindh government has written to the representative company of Cansino Bio for [the] supply of 10 million doses [of the] Covid-19 vaccine.”
A letter of intent attached with the post stated that 10m doses of the single-dose vaccines may be booked in advance. The final purchase agreement will be signed between the Sindh Health Department and the official distributor of CanSino Biologics, China in Pakistan.
Separately, the provincial taskforce on Covid-19 in Sindh decided on the day that it would be approaching the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) for initiating the registration of citizens below the age of 50 years for vaccination amid the third wave of the pandemic in Pakistan.
This was decided during a meeting chaired by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah. The meeting also urged the government to facilitate private hospitals to procure coronavirus vaccines. It will help reduce the burden on public hospitals, it was pointed out.
When the provincial taskforce’s meeting recommended a 15-day closure of schools, the CM directed Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani to discuss the matter with all stakeholders, including the managements of private schools, and make a decision.
“I am leaving it up to the education minister to decide in which areas, districts or cities schools should be closed,” he said.
Later, Ghani told media persons that a meeting of the education department’s steering committee would be convened on Saturday to decide the future course of action and all stakeholders would be consulted on the matter.
Vaccination of cops
Apart from the closure of schools, the taskforce also recommended that policemen, who too were frontline workers, also be vaccinated soon.
The CM directed the Health Department to make necessary arrangement for policemen’s vaccinations.
Moreover, the meeting was informed that between March 26 and April 1, Covid-19 positivity rate in Karachi was recorded at 4.63 per cent, five per cent in Hyderabad and 1.5 per cent in the rest of Sindh. The overall positivity rate in the province during the said period was calculated at 2.83 per cent.
The World Health Organisation representative present at the meeting raised alarm over the potential wide-scale spread of the coronavirus’ Variants of Concern, which originated in the United Kingdom.
These variants are being reported in Pakistan and would spread widely if the chain is not broken, he warned, adding that Pakistan had seen a rise in the number of infections caused by the B.1.1.7 variant since January 2021.
The representative said Pakistan had the capacity for detecting the variants through targeted polymerase chain reaction tests for S gene or partial and whole genome sequencing (WGS) methods.
He assured the meeting of the WHO’s support for the identification and detection of such Variants of Concern and strengthening the capacity for the early identification of emerging new variants through WGS at the provincial and national levels.
Following that, the meeting decided to collect the data of people who had travelled to Karachi from the UK over the past few months, so that they could undergo necessary tests and vaccination.
The Sindh Home Department has been assigned the task of collecting the data from the airport.