NCOC gives Aug 31 deadline to service sector for vaccination

The Nation  |  Jul 30, 2021

ISLAMABAD - Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has said that individuals from the service sector should be vaccinated by August 31 otherwise they will not be permitted to work.

The minister, who also heads the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), was addressing a press conference here on Thursday. 

He was joined by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health (SAPM) Dr Faisal Sultan. 

Asad Umar said all those who work in the service sector, including transport workers, shop keepers, bankers, NADRA employees or any job which requires dealing with a large number of people must be vaccinated against the Covid-19 before August 31. “Students above 18 years of age should also be vaccinated by August 31,” he said.

Umar reiterated that those travelling by air from August 1 onwards must have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Additionally, school and college teachers should also be vaccinated by August 1, he said and added that statistics from the last week show that 80 percent of teachers had been vaccinated in the country. “Those who are not vaccinated will not be allowed to work. We cannot risk the lives of our children because you refuse to get the vaccine,” he said.

Djokovic becomes first player to reach 3 Olympics singles semifinals The federal minister said that service sector employees interact with large groups of citizens and can expose them to the virus. “All these sectors are high risk and have been shut down the most in the past. We want your businesses and work to flourish; we do not want to take away your earnings. We are acknowledging your importance, not punishing you”, the minister told the service sector workers.

He emphasised that he wants peoples’ homes, businesses and subsequently the society to flourish.

Speaking on the Karachi’s Covid-19 situation, both Umar and Dr Sultan highlighted the severity of the situation in the city.

Asad Umar said that closing down entire cities for weeks was not the solution to curbing the spread of the disease. “Pakistan is currently experiencing a fourth wave of the Coronavirus pandemic that has seen the number of infections as well as fatalities jump up steadily across the country, “ he said and added closing down cities for weeks not a solution to tackle the 4th wave of Covid-19.

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The minister said that Pakistan was among the world’s first few countries to realise that closing down the country was not an effective way to battle the pandemic. “We realised that the working class, the labourers have to pay the price of this,” he said.

He said that Pakistan’s tried-and-tested strategy — based on data and experience — needed to be followed. He said that following the SOPs and enforcing lockdowns in hotspot areas was the only way to tackle the spread of the deadly virus. “We have seen success with this [strategy] time and again,” he maintained.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Sultan said that cases are proliferating exponentially in larger cities, especially Karachi. Due to this, hospitals in the city are under visible burden, he added.

PTI bags LA-16 Bagh seat after re-polling at four polling stations The minister said the Sindh government was “on the right path” with its handling of the situation in Karachi and monitoring the cases actively. He mentioned that the government supports the Sindh government’s initiatives and discussions for a lockdown, promising the provision of all necessary enforcements. However, the minister reiterated that shutting cities down is not viable in the long term. He recalled positivity rates decreased around Ramazan when enforcements were stricter but shot back up after the restrictions relaxed. “As soon as the numbers decrease, we start thinking that the virus is finished. However, our actions are directly linked to the spreading of the virus,” Umar claimed. The only solution is to vaccinate against the virus, he maintained.

Sharing the statistics, the minister said that currently Islamabad’s SOPs compliance was 56.4 percent, 46.6pc in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 42.7 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, 37.4pc in Gilgit-Baltistan and 38pc in Punjab. Sindh and Balochistan have the lowest SOP compliance at 33pc, he said.

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