Pakistan hits target of 70 million inoculations as Omicron cases rise

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Workers of a mobile vaccination team administering coronavirus vaccine to an elderly man at the Shrine of Bari Imam in Islamabad, on November 31, 2021. — Online/File
Workers of a mobile vaccination team administering coronavirus vaccine to an elderly man at the Shrine of Bari Imam in Islamabad, on November 31, 2021. — Online/File

ISLAMABAD: The federal government’s aim to inoculate 70 million people in the country by the end of 2021 has been achieved, Chairman National Command and Operation Centre Asad Umar  said Friday, as the cases of the Omicron variant continue to witness a steady rise.

The Omicron variant — dubbed as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organisation — emerged in November to become the pandemic’s dominant variant, driving new cases at record rates around the world.

In a series of tweets, Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Umar said the federal government has so far procured vaccines worth nearly Rs250 billion.

The NCOC chairman highlighted that Islamabad leads the count as it has fully vaccinated 77% of its population, Punjab 51%, Gilgit-Baltistan 46%, Azad Jammu and Kashmir 45%, Balochistan 42%, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 41%, and Sindh 37%.

Umar said 46% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated and 63% partially vaccinated, adding that the federal government had provided free vaccines to people across every province.

Pakistan has administered a total of 156.6 million doses so far, according to the NCOC.

Praising the NCOC for coordinating with provincial health authorities and playing its part in helping Pakistan achieve the vaccination target, Prime Minister Imran Khan thanked the forum for its work.

However, the WHO has warned of trying times ahead, saying Omicron could lead to “a tsunami of cases”.

“This […] will continue to put immense pressure on exhausted health workers, and health systems on the brink of collapse,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said.

Pakistan’s battle against COVID-19 continues to rage with the added challenge of Omicron spreading, as Islamabad reported 34 Omicron positive cases in a single day today, taking the total toll in the Federal Capital to 64, according to the district health officer.

The first Omicron case of the country was reported on December 13 in Karachi, and so far, according to a Geo.tv tally, the total number of cases number at least 133.

Earlier this week, officials warned that Pakistan may experience the fifth wave of COVID-19 in the mid of February 2022 with daily detection of around 3,000-4,000 cases per day.

“Transmission of Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 has started in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad and we fear a rise in COVID-19 cases all over the country in the coming two weeks,” an official of the National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSR&C) told The News.



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