Pakistan vaccine covid
A woman reacts while receiving the second shot of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine from a health worker at a vaccination centre, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Image Credit: AP

Islamabad: The coronavirus situation in Pakistan is extremely critical and the country would consider shutting down major cities if the situation does not improve in the coming days, Minister Asad Umar warned on Wednesday.

As the virus is spreading at an alarming rate and hospitals are filling up, “we will have no choice but to close down major cities,” if there is no change in the situation, cautioned Asad Umar who is spearheading the national fight against the virus.

He urged the people to take the pandemic seriously and follow COVID-19 guidelines to protect themselves and their loves ones. “This is the last chance to break the chain” of infections and control the spread, otherwise strict restrictions would have to be imposed in several cities, he said. He also expressed hope that the people would cooperate so the government is not compelled to enforce a strict lockdown.

Highest number of deaths reported this week

Nearly 1,100 people lost their lives to coronavirus in Pakistan since April 12. “This week, we witnessed the highest number of deaths from coronavirus since the start of the pandemic in Pakistan,” Umar said. Pakistan recorded 148 new fatalities in the past 24 hours, taking the total tally to 16,600.
The country is now averaging nearly 5,000 cases per day since the last week as the health situation continues to worsen amid the deadly third wave.

Worrying situation in hospitals

Detailing the alarming situation in hospitals, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) chief said that “there are some cities where 80 per cent of the ventilators are in use.” If the number of cases continue to surge, the oxygen supplies may run short, he said. The country is currently utilising 90 per cent of the total oxygen produced as the oxygen supply is reaching “dangerous levels.” There are currently more than 4,500 patients who need oxygen support as compared to 3,400 patients during the peak pandemic period in June 2020, exposing the severe pressure on the healthcare system.

Travel restrictions

Pakistan has imposed a ban on travellers from India through air and land routes for the next two weeks due to the spread of a new double mutant variant of coronavirus in India. The country is also considering adding more countries to the list to prevent the spread of the India variant in Pakistan. Currently, travellers from at least 23 high-risk countries are not allowed to enter Pakistan.