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The government on Thursday made the Covid vaccination obligatory for any service member after the number of hospitalisation of patients infected with the coronavirus reached the highest level in the country.

Planning Minister Asad Umar, who also heads the government’s unified strategy against the global pandemic, said that the Indian-origin ‘Delta’ variant of coronavirus, which is fuelling the ongoing fourth wave of the pandemic in the country, spread faster than other variants.

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) in its special guidelines under the Obligatory Regime for Vaccination to overcome the deadly contagious disease announced on Thursday that non-vaccinated individuals would not be allowed to render any services after September 15.

Read PM, army chief all praise for NCOC as it completes 500 days

According to an official NCOC document available with APP, the forum has worked out a phase-wise strategy with a core focus on emphasising that a high vaccination ratio is fundamental to the success of “Pandemic Exit Strategy” in the country.

The document includes the detailed strategy to enforce the Vaccination Obligatory Regime. “An organised regime has been strategised to realise the successful exit strategy and achieve desired tangible vaccination targets,” the document said.

The sector-wise strategy included sector description, cut-off date for partial vaccination and complete vaccination. “No individual will be entertained in under mentioned sectors if vaccination criteria as described below are not met,” the document underscored.

For air travel, both domestic and international including inbound and outbound, permission for partially vaccinated was already in place whereas complete vaccination to be enforced by September 30, it said.

In order to contain disease spread risk, entry in shopping malls would be ensured for partially vaccinated by August 31 and fully vaccinated by September 30. Deadline for partial and complete vaccination of students of 17 years of age was September 15 and October 15, respectively.

Hotel and guest house bookings for partially inoculated by August 31 and fully vaccinated September 30. Dine-in and outdoor dining at hotels, restaurants and marriage halls and ceremonies for partially vaccinated was in place and by September 30 only completely vaccinated to avail these services.

The final dates for partial and complete inoculations of the staff of trains, buses, vans, coasters, taxis, home delivery services etc, along with staff of any facility operating within premises of railway station, bus stops, taxi stands and other public transports were September 15 and October 15 respectively.

The services at public dealing offices of all types of government and private entities for only partial and completely vaccinated individuals to be enforced from September 15 and October 15, respectively, the government’s strategy document emphasised.

The travel by rail and road would be allowed to only partial and completely vaccinated individuals by September 15 and October 15, respectively. During the enforcement regime, stage-1 would target public transport on motorways.

In stage-2 public transport plying on the national highways, intra- and inter-city private transport and mass transit transport – metro, BRT, orange train etc, would allow partial and completely vaccinated individuals by September 30 and October 31.

The NCOC also provided an implementation methodology for all the federating units which commenced from soft launch of the obligatory regime. However, the obligatory regime would be launched in phases, the document said.

“First phase ie Soft Launch (1-15 September) will be used for extensive communication and advertisement at prominent places (Bus stands, ticketing offices, toll plazas, rest areas and railways stations),” it added.

“The people will not be denied any facility, instead they will be asked to get vaccinated,” the forum said, adding that the federating units would ensure availability of mob vaccination teams at the required places.

The forum also proposed a three-tier monitoring mechanism. In the first tier, a self-monitoring system would be put in place by owner of malls, hotels, restaurants etc, and the head of institutions of schools, colleges and public offices.

In the second tier, monitoring by local civil administration through random checking and verification, whereas in the third one, monitoring mechanism by the NCOC and provinces through random checking and seeking regular feedback would be made.

The authorities have administered over 58 million doses of the vaccine so far, but millions of people have yet to get the jab. The major source of procuring the vaccine has been China and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX arrangement.

Among the latest arrivals, 1 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine reached Pakistan a day earlier, while a White House spokesperson said the US would begin sending over 4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Pakistan.

The 4,149,990 doses, sent through COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing initiative co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI), are in addition to the more than 9.2 million doses of Moderna and Pfizer vaccine already donated to Pakistan since June.

The country is in the grip of the fourth wave of coronavirus. As of Thursday, the NCOC said in its daily bulletin that national tally of active Covid cases reached 92,941 as 4,103 more people tested positive for the infectious disease during the past 24 hours. The national positivity ratio was recorded at 6.65%.

It said that 85 patients died in hospitals during the past 24 hours, raising the nationwide death toll to 25,978. The national caseload of the disease soared to 1,167,791, with most cases reported from Punjab. So far, 1,048,872 have made full recovery.

The NCOC head Asad Umar warned the masses to follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to contain the spread of Covid-19 as the hospital inflow and critical care Covid patients, both were at the highest level since the start of the pandemic.

“As seen globally, impact of Indian delta variant in Pakistan also showed that it spreads faster and increased chances of patients to need hospitalisation, he tweeted. He urged the people to follow SOPs and vaccinate themselves.

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