pakistan covid vaccine sinovac
A man receives the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine from a health worker at a drive-through vaccination centre, in Karachi, Pakistan, Saturday, July 31, 2021. Image Credit: AP

Islamabad: Dozens of passengers were offloaded from flights at Karachi and Peshawar airports as Pakistan’s domestic travel curbs came into effect on Sunday amid the surge in delta variant cases.

At least eight passengers were offloaded from a flight from the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi for not carrying COVID-19 vaccination certificates, the airline officials said. As many as 27 passengers were not allowed to board a domestic flight from Bacha Khan International Airport as they were travelling without proof of vaccination.

Pakistan has banned air travel for anyone without a COVID-19 vaccine certificate from August 1. However, partially vaccinated citizens will be allowed to board a flight.

The government has also made vaccination mandatory for those working in sectors including travel, education, security and public offices by August 31. Unvaccinated people will no longer be allowed to enter government offices, schools, restaurants and shopping malls after the end of the month, said Asad Umar, who heads National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), the organisation that oversees the pandemic response.

Meanwhile, Pakistani passengers travelling from category C countries will require approval to be allowed to travel back home. The category C countries are Argentina, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, Maldives, Namibia, Nepal, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Uruguay.

COVID-19 situation

In the last two days, Pakistan reported between 4,850 and 5,000 new infections - the highest number of daily cases since April 2021 as the delta variant has hit the country hard. The number of active cases in the country swelled to 73,213 on August 2 while 3,441 patients are in critical condition. Around 85 per cent of new cases recorded recently were among people who were not vaccinated, according to doctors working in Karachi’s hospitals.

Record vaccination

In almost five months, Pakistan managed to deliver more than 30 million jabs against the coronavirus. The first 10 million vaccination mark was completed in 113 days and it took 28 days to reach the next milestone and only 16 days to administer 30 million coronavirus vaccine doses. Nearly 6.5 million people in Pakistan are fully vaccinated and 24 million received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. Pakistan aims to vaccinate 70 million eligible people of its total 220 million population by the end of 2021.