KARACHI: The Sindh government has announced to stop salaries of government employees who have not yet got themselves vaccinated against COVID-19 from July.
Taking a policy decision, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, during a meeting, directed the chief secretary to give the current month of June to all the government/ semi-government/ local government employees for getting themselves vaccinated as afterwards salaries of those officials who failed to get vaccinated by the end of this month would be stopped (from next month). “I mean salary of unvaccinated officials would not be released after June,” the CM announced.
Presiding over the meeting of the Provincial Task Force on coronavirus on Thursday at the CM House, Murad declared the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all citizens of the province.
“We have to secure our citizens by taking some drastic measures,” he said. He directed the Sindh Health Department to establish vaccination coverage facilities in every nook and corner of the province.
“I want at least 300 basic units to be declared as vaccination centers in the rural areas with target of vaccinating 30,000 people per day,” he said. Murad, giving another target to the Health Department, said that five mobile vaccination teams should be constituted in every Taluka. “We have 605 Talukas/ tehsils and they must vaccinate at least 60,000 people per day,” he ordered.
The Sindh CM also directed the Health Department to give the target of 10,000 vaccinations per day to 90 private hospitals in Sindh already allowed to vaccinate people. He directed the health minister to register more private hospitals for the vaccination process.
Sindh Health Secretary Dr Kazim Jatoi, presenting the vaccination report to the meeting, said that so far 1,550,553 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been utilised, of them 1,121,402 in the first dose and 429,223 in the second dose. On June 2, some 78,799 doses were administered all over Sindh, including 57,541 as first dose and 21,258 as the second dose. The meeting was told that on the evening of May 29, four cases of Indian variant of coronavirus were identified in Sindh. The infected passengers had travel histories of going to Iraq and Oman. The Health Department has identified their 17 contacts and their tests were being conducted.
Meanwhile, Sindh Minister for Education Saeed Ghani said that the provincial government was headed towards "reopening" of sectors. “We are headed towards reopening Sindh. Restrictions will not increase, rather they will be eased,” said Ghani. He added that if the economic activity in Karachi was curtailed, then it will harm the Sindh government as well. The provincial minister said that his government had taken difficult decisions to protect the lives of citizens.
On the other hand, Sindh's Minister for Health Dr Azra Pechuho said the provincial government would only ease restrictions once people started getting themselves inoculated. The Sindh government has announced presenting the Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) is not a compulsory condition in the province if someone wants to get the coronavirus vaccine, Dr Pechuho said.
Pechuho was speaking at a press conference at the Sindh Assembly building. She was flanked by Sindh Information and Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah. “Although, the NCOC (National Command and Operation Centre) makes it compulsory to present the CNIC for getting the vaccine but in Sindh any other document like passport will also be acceptable to prove identity for receiving the jab,” she said.
She said the Sindh government intended to do coronavirus vaccination of students of religious seminaries and this stage would come with commencement of coronavirus vaccination of people below 30 years of age since the seminary students were mostly of younger age. She said that religious seminaries in the province would be contacted for the purpose. She said that despite the efforts of the government, people are still hesitant to get themselves vaccinated. She said the vaccination process of teachers was being accelerated in order to completely restore the academic activities in the province at the earliest.
Dr Pechuho said that the Sindh Health Department would contact the persons who had received the first dose of coronavirus vaccination in order to ask them to complete the vaccination process.
She claimed that Chairman of Pakistan People’s Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would himself supervise the steps being taken in the province to vaccinate the people against coronavirus. She said that the members of Sindh cabinet, legislators, and political leadership would also be involved in the drive to vaccinate the people in Sindh. She said that a target had been set to vaccinate 18 million people against coronavirus in the next three months. Some 1.5 million people had so far received the coronavirus vaccine in the province, which is 6.5 per cent of the population of Sindh. She said that some 17.26 million people having ages over 30 lived in Sindh.
The health minister deplored that despite the efforts of the government, people were still hesitant to get themselves vaccinated. Dr Pechuho said all members of the national and provincial assemblies have been inoculated for the coronavirus vaccine. "The coronavirus positivity ratio in Karachi is still above 11pc," Dr Pechuho said, adding that Sindh was yet to see an improvement in this regard. "Hospitals are still receiving coronavirus positive patients." Shedding light on further arrangements that Sindh is making to inoculate people, Dr Pechuho said that the government has started negotiating with industrialists. "We are also planning to vaccinate people at home, while a mobile vaccination service will also be launched soon," the health minister said. She said the government has set a target of inoculating more than 18 million people within three months.
Dr Pechuho also spoke about the rumours surrounding the coronavirus vaccine. "The man who spread rumours about people dying within two years of vaccination was stupid," she said, adding: "If anyone witnesses side effects of the vaccine, then there are medicines to cure that." The health minister said that Sindh had asked the Centre to ensure an uninterrupted supply of vaccines to the province. Taking a jibe at those who have criticised the government's decision to impose coronavirus restrictions in the province, Dr Pechuho said it was wrong to say that the move was equivalent to economic murder. "Shops are open, while people are regularly shopping online," she said. "We didn't have to impose a curfew in the province." The minister also said that COVID-19 did not spread in Sindh like it did in some other countries.
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