Heath workers register people before they can be vaccinated at a vaccination centre in Karachi on Tuesday. AP
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
Chairman of Pakistan's National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) and Federal Minister Asad Umar said on Wednesday that the registration of coronavirus vaccination for citizens aged 30 to 39 will be open from Sunday (May 16). This is the first time that the age limit has been reduced to thirty years.
Umar said in a tweet that as vaccine supply continues to improve and vaccination capacity gets enhanced in all provinces, the government continues to expand the categories of those who are eligible to get vaccinated. "As vaccine supply continues to improve and vaccination capacity gets enhanced in all federating units, we continue to expand the categories of those who are eligible to get vaccinated," Umar said on Twitter. "Starting Sunday, the 16th of May, registration will be open to all 30 years and older citizens," the official added.
Pakistan also commenced the process of walk-in vaccination for the citizens aged 40 to 49 on Wednesday. The registered citizens will be able to walk into any COVID-19 vaccination centre of their choice and get vaccinated, the Xinhua news agency reported.
In order to stop the spread of the virus during Eid Al Fitr holidays, Pakistan has barred almost all businesses, hotels, parks, recreational spots and shopping malls, inter-provincial and inter-city public transport from operating from May 8 to 16, covering the Eid holidays from May 10 to 15 in the country.
A woman receives the first dose of the Covishield AstraZeneca vaccine at a medical centre in Karachi. AFP
The NCOC has approved strict guidelines and safety protocols for holding Eid Al Fitr prayers across the country. Eid prayers should be organised at open spaces with COVID-19 protocols. In case if there was a compulsion to offer Eid prayers in Masjid then windows and doors should be kept opened for good ventilation to reduce risk of infection and disease transmission.
However, in order to reduce gatherings two to three Eid prayers at a venue with staggered timings and minimum strength are held. The clerics and religious leaders are advised to keep the sermon brief in order to reduce the prayer timings as the virus spread was on rise. The guidelines discouraged the sick, elderly and children less than 15 years of age from attending the Eid prayers.
As per guidelines, wearing a face or surgical mask is mandatory. It is also necessary to erect multiple entry and exit points at prayer venues to avoid jumbling up of individuals and reduce risk of congestion.
The mosque management or authorities responsible for organising Eid prayers are directed to ensure thermal screening at entry points, availability and use of hand sanitisers and six feet social distancing markings at the venue.
A health worker inoculates a woman with a dose of coronavirus vaccine in Lahore. AFP
The worshipers should bring their own prayer mats and also perform ablution at home. The safety protocols also underscored to discourage socialising or embracing and hand-shakes at the venue after prayers.
However, no gathering is allowed before and after the prayers usually observed after Eid prayers. Moreover, banners and panaflex highlighting Covid protocols should be displaced at the prominent places as part of awareness campaigns whereas well laid out parking areas should be prepared for crowd management.
In the wake of ongoing restrictions imposed till May 16, 2021, the NCOC urged for greater national resolve to strictly adhere to the standard operating procedures to control the spread of pandemic. It urged the nation to stand united and firm to support these steps undertaken for its wellbeing.
Following an EU summit, French President Emmanuel Macron said there was a "new type of world war," adding: "We are looking in particular at Russian and Chinese attacks and attempts to gain influence through the vaccine."
China has pledged to donate 500,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine made by the Chinese firm SinoPharm. Two government sources said the first batch would be flown in on Saturday. Pakistan reported 1,563 new coronavirus infections and 74 deaths in the latest 24-hour period.
According to the NCOC data, Pakistan will receive 5.6m doses by the end of March, with 2.8m doses of Gavi/Covax expected in the first week of next month and another 2.8m doses by the second week. In all, 17.1m doses will reach Pakistan by the end of June.
With 88 more deaths and 4,000 new cases of COVID-19 infections all over Pakistan, inoculation of people aged 30 years and above started from Saturday as the National Assembly was informed that local production of the anti-coronavirus vaccine has begun.
A third wave of coronavirus infections is likely to hit India by October, and although it will be better controlled than the latest outbreak the pandemic will remain a public health threat for at least another year, according to a poll of medical experts.
He added, “What we experience today will become something of the past tomorrow. Joining university and getting a degree was the ultimate end of our parents, but I assure you that education will never come to an end."
In a flash of a second, the men started to climb the pipe attached to the building forming a human chain.