pakistan covid vaccine sinovac
A woman 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: In view of the surge in COVID-19 cases across Pakistan, the government has decided to fully implement the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) guidelines to curb the spread of COVID-19 infections.

Pakistan on Friday reported 694 new cases of COVID-19 after 17,640 tests conducted in the last 24 hours. The positivity rate on Friday remained 3.93 per cent.

The upward trend of COVID-19 cases has prompted the NCOC to issue new guidelines suggesting unvaccinated people should not be allowed to enter government offices.

The NCOC guidelines also suggested that COVID-19 awareness programmes should be arranged in government offices and employees be also guided to protect their family members as well.

They must also be sensitised to avoid overcrowded places.

Mask wearing is mandatory and social distancing must be part of seating plan in offices and this must also be ensured during prayers, according to the guidelines by the NCOC. Hand sanitisers at all entrances and washrooms should be made available, it further said.

Government to administer jabs to children aged 5-11 years

The federal government has also announced to administer COVID-19 vaccine to children between the ages of five and 11 against coronavirus “within a month or two” in view of rising cases of COVID-19 and precautionary measures against the virus spread.

At a media briefing of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) Health Minister Qadir Patel said vaccines for children in the 5-11 year age bracket were only available with Pfizer.

“We have engaged in a dialogue with them and hopefully, by August or September, we will receive 6.8 million doses from Pfizer which is a step forward,” he said.

COVID-19 cases in Pakistan, the minister noted, had increased in the last few days. “The situation is not worrisome but it requires the public to be cautious.”

Masks made mandatory in closed gatherings, airlines

For this purpose, the government is proposing three standard operating procedures (SOPs) that need to be “followed religiously”, he said.

“We have made masks mandatory in all closed gatherings, airlines, railways and public transport. Social distancing and proper sanitization are also very important.”

Eid Al Adha, Muharram critical months

Patel cautioned that Eid Al Adha and Muharram are coming up during which large public gatherings are typically held. “We are mulling over strategies for these occasions as well as the threat of coronavirus cases rising persists during these months,” he said.