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ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) Tuesday decided to call the army for implementing the mandatory coronavirus Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

The Pakistan Army was last mobilised in April to enforce coronavirus safety protocols in several parts of the country after Prime Minister Imran Khan had sought its help in curbing the spread of the virus.

The NCOC also decided to make coronavirus vaccination mandatory for domestic travel from August 1, a statement from the forum said.

Meanwhile, international flight operations have been increased to 50 percent.

"The decision to increase international flight operations has been made to repatriate Pakistanis stranded abroad," the statement said, adding that the decision would come into effect from July 15.

The move to increase flight operations will allow the government to bring back 2,500-3,000 Pakistanis every day, and all the airports and relevant authorities have been directed to make necessary arrangements to accommodate the passengers, the forum said.

The NCOC has decided to impose smart lockdowns with the help of heat maps.

The meeting was informed that the authorities in Islamabad, Multan, Peshawar, and Gujranwala had taken action against people violating COVID-19 SOPs.

The authorities in these cities also sealed hotels, where they had spotted violations of coronavirus SOPs.

The forum also took notice of hotel staff and waiters performing their duties without getting vaccinated and not wearing masks, the statement from the forum said.

Moreover, Pakistan has crossed the 20 million inoculations mark, the NCOC was informed, with more than 525,000 getting the jabs in the last 24 hours.

The forum was informed that from July 1-12, more than four million have gotten their COVID-19 jabs.

During the Eid-ul-Azha holidays, which according to the federal government will fall on July 20-22, the authorities have been directed to strictly check vehicles at tourism spots.

It has been made mandatory for people visiting tourism spots to get vaccinated, the NCOC said.

Meanwhile, NCOC chief Asad Umar in a tweet has said that Pakistan ramped up its coronavirus vaccinations on Monday by vaccinating a record 525,000 persons.

"For the first time, we crossed half a million doses of vaccination yesterday," tweeted the NCOC chief.

"Highest ever first dose was also achieved yesterday with 3 lakh 90 thousand first doses administered," he added.

The minister vowed to increase the pace of the vaccinations in future.

Pakistan began its vaccination drive against coronavirus in February this year, inoculating people against the Covid-19 to ensure their safety.

However, Pakistanis working abroad specially in Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Kuwait and other parts of the world, stranded in Pakistan are facing serious vaccination shortage problem.

The overseas Pakistanis stranded in Pakistan are visiting vaccinating centres on a daily basis for vaccination but due to unavailability of Saudi Arabia-approved vaccines including Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson they are forced to return to their homes.

Nauman Chughtai, an overseas Pakistani working in Saudi Arabia and stranded in Pakistan, while talking to Business Recorder said that one month ago, he got first jab of AstraZeneca vaccine, now he was travelling here and there to get the second jab but all in vain.

He said that now Saudi Arabia has also allowed Pakistanis vaccinated with Chinese coronavirus vaccines but people like him are in real hot waters, who have received AstraZeneca but under Pakistani laws are not allowed to take second jab of another form of vaccine.

If the government did not resolve this problem, thousands of overseas Pakistanis stranded inside Pakistan will lose their jobs, he lamented.

Meanwhile, the country, on Tuesday, reported another 21 coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, pushing the national death tally since the pandemic started to 22,618.

The NCOC revealed that 1,590 new cases had been reported in the country on Tuesday, taking the national tally to 976,867 since pandemic outbreak.

At least, 914,605 people have recovered so far across Pakistan, which is over 93 percent.

Latest data issued by the NCOC shows that after 43,790 tests were conducted on July 12, 1,590 people tested positive for coronavirus.

Pakistan's positivity rate is currently 3.63 percent.

The total active COVID-19 cases in Pakistan are currently 39,644.

According to a province-wise breakdown, the total cases reported in Sindh so far are 348,385, in Punjab 348,509, in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 139,593, in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) 83,831, in Balochistan 28,321, in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) 6,972, and in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) 21,256.

Out of total 22,618 nationwide deaths since the coronavirus outbreak, Punjab with 10,832 deaths is on top of which 10 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, followed by Sindh with 5,613 deaths of which six died in the past 24 hours, KPK with 4,365 deaths of which three died in the past 24 hours, the ICT with 785 deaths of which one died in the past 24 hours, the AJK with 595 deaths, Balochistan with 317 deaths, and the GB 111 deaths.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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