People gather to receive their coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine doses, at a vaccination centre in Karachi, Pakistan April 28, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

Govt arranges immediate payment for purchased vaccines

NCOC allows walk-in vaccination for students studying abroad, overseas Pakistanis

Our Correspondent May 21, 2021

The government has made arrangements to make immediate payments for the coronavirus vaccines purchased from China, sources said on Thursday, as the national vaccination campaign continued in full swing.

The campaign started with the vaccine donated by China. In the initial stage, priority was given to frontline health workers. Later, scope of the campaign was expanded and the people of different age groups were allowed to get themselves registered for jabs.

Simultaneously with expanding the vaccination campaign, the government ordered more vaccine doses from China. The authorities also procured doses from other sources, such as the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX.

Read: World Bank redeploys $153m for Pak vaccine drive

The sources said the government had decided to make the a payment of $11.28 million for the purchase of Sinovac and CanSino vaccines. They added that the payment would be made from the government funds allocated for the purchase of the vaccine.

So far, more than 4.74 million people have been vaccinated across the country, including 211,986 people during the last 24 hours. Currently, the government is allowing all the people over the age of 40 years to receive the jabs.

According to statistics, 2,491,040 people have been given the first dose of the vaccine, while 1,153,893 people have been given both doses of the vaccine. In the last 24 hours, 174,680 people were given the first dose of the vaccine while 37,306 people have been given the second dose.

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), which supervises the government’s anti-pandemic strategy, has also allowed walk-in vaccinations for overseas Pakistanis, students studying abroad and seafarers having visas.

Coronavirus emerged in the country in February last year. The pandemic started ebbing after seeing its peak in June. However, the cases surged again towards the end of the year dubbed by the experts as the second wave. In March, a deadlier third wave emerged.

Because of the high number of cases, the government imposed a lockdown across the country during the Eidul Fitr holidays. On Wednesday, the NCOC eased several of those restrictions, allowing opening of schools, where Covid positivity ratio was less than 5%, besides outdoor dining at restaurants etc.

However, in areas where the positivity ratio was more than 5%, the authorities extended the closure of educational institutions till the first week of June. The final decision regarding the reopening of these institutions will be taken at the meeting of the NCOC on June 3.

The government has also decided to support the education sector through targeted vaccination of the teaching and support staff. It will also be mandatory for the examination and invigilation staff in the coming board exams to get themselves vaccinated before the commencement of exams.

Read more: Dr Faisal dismisses ‘speculations’ on Covid vaccine shortage

Meanwhile, the number of active Covid-19 cases reached 66,282 after 4,207 more people tested positive for the virus while 4,171 people recovered from the disease during the last 24 hours, the NCOC said in its daily update.

The update said that 131 patients, of them 110 in hospitals, including 59 on ventilators died during the last 24 hours, adding that most of the deaths, 77, occurred in Punjab, followed by 28 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The nationwide death toll stood at 19,987.

As of Thursday, the national caseload of the disease has risen to 890,391, including 804,122 recoveries. At present, the NCOC said 4,958 patients were admitted to 639 hospitals, which were equipped with Covid facilities, across the country. (WITH INPUT FROM APP)