‘Responsibility, precautions’ imperative to counter Covid-19: minister

ISLAMABAD: With the second wave of the coronavirus running rampant, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Monday once again urged the nation to adopt precautionary measures to curb the spread of the second wave.

In the last 24 hours, the government portal keeping track of the contagious disease posted 1,877 fresh infections against 34,524 tests with a significantly lowered positivity ratio of 5.44 percent against the 7 percent transmission rate in the preceding month.

In a series of tweets, Umar observed that “health consequences are strongly correlated with our decisions and choices”.

“When the second wave accelerated [in November], we closed high risk areas identified by our analysis in the last week of November,” he recalled.

“In the first week of December,” he said, “hospital admissions peaked. In the second week, patients on oxygen/vents peaked. In the third week, mortality peaked and then declined. Decisions & results are highly correlated.”

The data illustrated how coronavirus health consequences correlated with personal choices and decisions, he said. “Hence it’s important that we all take responsibility and take precautions. If we do the right things, we shall continue to safeguard lives and livelihoods.”

“The devastation unfolding in countries like the USA and UK these days, where there are more cases & Covid deaths than at any time in the first wave, shows the danger that could face us if we do not continue to do the right things, with both the state and citizens playing their role,” he added.

VACCINATION:

Meanwhile, China’s state-backed pharmaceutical giant, Sinopharm, has sought permission from Islamabad for the emergency use of its vaccine in the country.

The company has applied for registration to the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), submitting the complete data of clinical trials of its vaccine to it.

The government has already announced an intent to purchase 1.2 million doses of the vaccine from China.

In December, the federal cabinet approved $250 million in funding to buy coronavirus vaccines, initially to cover the most vulnerable 5 per cent of the population, including the frontline health workers.

Meanwhile, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has announced to have opened registrations for frontline healthcare workers who are set to receive the first doses of the vaccine.

Staff in both public and private health facilities will be vaccinated, NCOC announced on its website and gave an elaborate definition for who qualified as a healthcare worker.

“All staff of Covid-19 hospitals (public and private sector) and isolation centers,” the notification said.

“All staff includes clerical, administrative and support staff [sanitary workers, guards] in addition to doctors, nurses, paramedics.”

The parliamentary health secretary told Radio Pakistan last week the government was expecting its first vaccine dose by the end of January, and that it was preparing a database of frontline health workers who would be vaccinated for free.

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