A health worker inoculates a man with a dose of Sinopharm vaccine at a vaccination centre in Karachi. AFP
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
As the COVID-19 situation remained under control in Pakistan during the Eid Al Fitr holidays with daily new cases showing a declining trend, the country has decided to ease a number of restrictions on transportation and commercial activities.
As coronavirus vaccine registration of people aged 30 years and above began on Sunday, the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) has allowed resumption of public transport instead of the previously given date of May 17.
The transport will, however, be operative with 50 per cent occupancy of passengers, and railways will maintain its operation with 70 per cent occupancy, according to the NCOC.
Besides, all markets and shops will remain open till 8pm from May 17. On the other hand, Pakistan reported the lowest number of cases since March 8. Experts, however, attributed the low count to fewer number of tests conducted due to Eid.
According to a statement, a special session of the NCOC was chaired by Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar and co-chaired by National Coordinator Lt Gen Hamooduz Zaman Khan. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan was also in attendance while chief secretaries participated via video link.
"The forum reviewed the implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) during Eid holidays and expressed its satisfaction. It also appreciated the efforts of all stakeholders, especially the cooperation rendered by the public across the country. After reviewing the existing non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) a number of decisions were taken,” it said.
The data released by the NCOC showed that 1,531 cases and 83 deaths were reported in a single day whereas 588 people were on ventilators throughout the country.
The number of active cases has been recorded at 71,804 as of May 15 while 4,805 patients were admitted to various hospitals.
Meanwhile, after the UK variant made inroads into various cities of the country, Pakistan has reported its first confirmed patient carrying the Indian strain.
"The vaccine will be single dose and has been manufactured by the CanSino Biologics whose single dose injectable vaccine is already being used in Pakistan. Nasal vaccines are usually given to children but there will be no age limit for it..."
In the meantime, after reducing the number of inbound flights to 20 per cent as part of measures to halt the spread of COVID-19 from May 5 to 20, Pakistan has also slashed the number of foreign airlines’ flights to 120 per week.
Already battling a third wave of infections and increasingly nervous about the crisis across the border in India, the government has imposed the most severe restrictions since a one-month lockdown in April last year.
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