Islamabad, Apr 30 (PTI) The Pakistan government would be forced to impose lockdown in cities if the surge in the COVID-19 cases continued, a senior minister has said, as the total number of coronavirus infections in the country reached 820,823.
The death toll from the deadly virus in the country reached 17,811 after 131 more fatalities were reported in the last 24 hours, while 5,112 new COVID-19 infections were reported, pushing the national tally to 820,823, according to the Ministry of National Health Services.
The ministry reported that the COVID-19 positivity rate was 10.41 per cent.
Planning Minister Asad Umar warned that the government would be forced to lockdown the cities if the positivity rate crossed 15 per cent.
'The challenge is not over and infact is continuing to increase. The need for precautions and following sop's is vital at this point in time. Next few weeks are critical. No system can cope if we allow the disease to spread rapidly' he said in a tweet on Friday.
Special Assistant on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said that Pakistan has purchased 13 million doses of vaccine from three Chinese companies including Sinopharm, CanSinoBio and Sinovac, while it will get some 2.4 million doses from the COVAX facility.
“We will hopefully receive these supplies in the next two months,” he said, adding that currently China was the main supplier for the vaccine but Pakistan was trying to expand procurement from other countries.
As the country was trying to increase vaccination, three special planes of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) airlifted one million doses of the vaccine from China late Thursday.
'The fresh consignment is in addition to one million doses of COVID-19 vaccine transported to Pakistan from China by three planes of the national flag carrier on April 25,' said Qadir Bux Sangi, who is PIA country manager for China.
The country also announced to start vaccination of people aged between 40 to 49 years from May 3. Previously, jabs were allowed for those above the age of 50.
Umar said that for the second consecutive day on Thursday, more than 100,000 doses were administered to people, taking the number vaccinations to over 2.1 million.
It is estimated that with 100,000 daily doses, Pakistan would take more than six years to vaccinate its total population of 220 million people.
Meanwhile, Sindh province Minister for Health & Population Welfare, Dr Azra Pechuho on Friday tweeted that the South African and Brazilian variants of COVID-19 were found in the country and they were not responsive to any vaccine.
“South African & Brazilian variant of COVID-19 found in samples taken by AKU (Agha Khan University). This is an emergency as these variants are not vaccination responsive either,” she said, urging everyone to take all necessary precautions and take this seriously.
Dr Pechuho strongly recommended avoiding crowds and even small social gatherings, as well as travelling unnecessarily. PTI SH RS AMS