Islamabad: Pakistan will ban air travel for anyone without a COVID-19 vaccine certificate from August 1 and will require all public sector workers to get vaccinated by Aug. 31, the government announced on Thursday along with a host of other restrictions.
From Aug. 1, unvaccinated people will no longer be allowed to enter government offices, schools, restaurants and shopping malls, said Asad Umar, who heads National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), a military-run body that oversees the pandemic response, at a joint news conference with the health minister in Islamabad.
Teachers and students above 18, public transport and retail staff will also be required to get vaccinated by the end of August, they said.
Pakistan has seen coronavirus infections soar, dominated by Delta variant, and its poor health infrastructure is under extreme pressure.
The national positive test rate for COVID stands at 7.53%, according to the NCOC. The rate in the southern port city of Karachi touched 23% in recent weeks. “If you’re not vaccinated you can’t go to teach at schools and colleges from August 1,” Umar said.
“We can’t put our children’s lives at risk just because that you’re not ready to get the vaccine.” The NCOC has said the Delta, Beta, and Alpha variants of the virus have all been detected in Pakistan since May.
After a sluggish start, the government ramped up its national vaccination drive, especially in the heartland Punjab province, with 850,000 doses administered on Wednesday across the country.
Umar said the target is to touch one million doses a day.
According to the NCOC, over 27.8 million have now received at least one vaccine shot, while only 5.9 million have been fully vaccinated out of a population of 220 million.
It said Pakistan registered 4,497 new cases and 76 deaths in the last 24 hours, with over 3,000 people in critical condition.
So far 23,209 people have died of COVID-19 in Pakistan.