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Confirmed Covid-19 cases surpass 900,000


ISLAMABAD: The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases increased to 900,552 on Sunday after 3,084 more people tested positive during the last 24 hours, the National Command and Operation Center announced, as the government struggles with new virus variants and vaccine shortfalls.

Punjab is the worst-hit region with 333,971 confirmed cases, followed by Sindh where 308,118 people have been tested positive, said the NCOC.

A total of 817,681 people have recovered in the country, with 62,620 active cases including 4,392 people who are in critical condition.

According to the NCOC, 74 people died across the country during the last 24 hours, taking the death toll to 20,251.

The country has administered a total of 4,956,853 COVID-19 vaccine doses so far till Sunday morning, including 1,193,441 persons who have been fully vaccinated.

The government is currently vaccinating people of 30 years and above besides allowing walk-in vaccination for citizens aged 18 and above, who intend to travel abroad.

As richer nations race ahead with mass vaccination campaigns, the developing countries are still scrambling to secure supplies as they grapple with concerns about more infectious variants.

The NCOC on Saturday directed the provinces and administrative units to reverse their decision to reopen schools in high coronavirus positivity areas on Monday because the new statistics are ringing alarm bells as the country is battling with the third wave of Covid-19.

According to media reports, Sindh is considering imposing a strict lockdown in the cities having a high positivity ratio, including Karachi. The province has reportedly sought input from different departments and a decision regarding it is likely to be taken on Monday.

PIA AIRLIFTS VACCINE CONSIGNMENT:

Meanwhile, a special Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-6853 airlifted yet another batch of two million doses of Sinovac vaccine from Beijing.

The latest consignment is received a week after a PIA flight had transported one million doses of the same vaccine, Qadir Bux Sangi, PIA country manager in China, told state-owned Associated Press of Pakistan.

China has also pledged to continue the uninterrupted supply of vaccines to help Pakistan defeat the contagion disease.

The Sinovac shot is more effective than it proved in the testing phase, which was beset by divergent efficacy rates and questions over data transparency. Results from its biggest Phase-III trial in Brazil put the shot’s efficacy at just above 50 percent, the lowest among all first-generation Covid-19 vaccines.

Health officials say the government has so far received over 13 million doses of vaccines from Chinese companies — including Sinopharm, Sinovac, and CanSino — and some through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access initiative for developing nations.

The nation is grappling with a third peak of the pandemic with the authorities continue to tighten the restrictions to contain the spread of the disease.

The vaccination for people in the 30-39 age group started on Saturday and would continue for an indefinite period, health officials said.

Private sales have also been made available to the public in Pakistan, and around the world, but have earned the anger of the critics who say they make inoculations available only to the wealthy. But even then, the private hospitals are out of supplies.

The government said the private programme could make more free shots available to low-income people. By purchasing doses of the Russian Sputnik V jabs, the wealthy wouldn’t need to get the free doses, which are made by Sinopharm of China and AstraZeneca of the United Kingdom.





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