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EDITORIAL: Thanks to the sustained efforts of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) to contain the spread of Covid-19, its positivity rate has come down to 1.07 percent. It is good to note that the forum regularly monitors the progress of its work and keeps the public informed about the same. At its Monday meeting presided over by its chairman, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, the NCOC advised the provinces to reach out to schools and parents for the vaccination of students in the 12-18 years age group and provide them with all possible facilitation for the purpose. How important it is to do that is obvious from the fact that this country’s population comprises mainly of young people. The forum also called on all stakeholders to step up administration of the second dose to all eligible individuals.

The NCOC deserves to be applauded for its commendable work. Last month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had announced its new strategy to combat the scourge of Covid-19. Outlining its plan, it had called for vaccinating 40 percent of the population of every country by the end of the current year and 70 percent by mid-2022. Pakistan has already surpassed the 40 percent target. As per the figures announced earlier this month, the national average of vaccination was 48 percent. The largest population Punjab province posted the largest vaccination rate of 52 percent, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at 48 percent, Sindh at 40 percent, though Balochistan lagged far behind at 17 percent which calls for urgent attention. Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan did better than all others by vaccinating 59 percent and 54 percent, respectively, of their populations. The Punjab government has also started a door-to-door vaccination drive. If other provinces follow suit it should not be difficult to achieve the 70 percent target well before the middle of next year. Meanwhile, the NCOC has been ensuring continuity of required supplies coupled with good planning which is helping attain the desired objective without disturbing economic activity and the general flow of life.

But needless to say, there is no room for complacency yet. For its part the NCOC, aside from ensuring maximum possible vaccination coverage, has been trying to create public awareness about the deadly virus through media campaigns, offering health guideline messages in five languages. Yet considerable resistance remains to vaccination. The political parties, both inside and outside the government, have not helped matters, either. They have been holding mass public gatherings in utter disregard of SOPs. All sections of society must act with a sense of responsibility; for no one is safe until everyone is safe. Reduction in cases will not be sustainable without better cooperation among different stakeholders.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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