Eighteen more people have died due to Covid-19 and another 922 cases have been reported during the past 24 hours in Sindh, with the death toll due to the viral disease reaching 3,793 in the province.
Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said in his daily situation report on the health emergency on Sunday that 10,945 samples were tested in the past 24 hours, resulting in 922 people, or 8.42 per cent of those who were screened, being diagnosed with Covid-19.
The provincial government has so far conducted 2,577,063 tests, which have resulted in 235,576 positive cases, which means that 9.14 per cent of those screened have been found to be infected, he added.
Shah said that after the latest deaths, the rate of the diagnosed people who have lost their fight with Covid-19 stands at 1.61 per cent in Sindh. He said that 18,159 patients are currently under treatment: 17,190 in self-isolation at home, 13 at isolation centres and 956 at hospitals, while 872 patients are in critical condition, of whom 89 are on life support.
He added that 691 more people have recovered during the past 24 hours, increasing the number of cured patients to 213,624, which shows the recovery rate to be 90.68 per cent.
The CM said that out of the 922 fresh cases of Sindh, 721 (or 78.2 per cent) have been reported in Karachi Division alone: 219 of the city’s new patients are from District South, 190 from District East, 141 from District Central, 84 from District Korangi, 59 from District Malir and 28 from District West.
As for the other districts of the province, Hyderabad has reported 38 new cases, Dadu 32, Mirpurkhas 17, Badin 13, Naushehroferoze and Khairpur 11 each, Larkana nine, Jamshoro eight, Kashmore six, Ghotki and Umerkot five each, Shaheed Benazirabad four, Sujawal three, Kambar two, and Tharparkar, Sukkur and Thatta one each, he added.
The chief executive reiterated his appeal to the people of Sindh that they should comply with the standard operating procedures issued by his provincial government.
A day earlier, mentioning that it appeared Pakistan would be the last country to vaccinate its people in the world, Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho sought the federal government’s permission to directly negotiate with foreign governments and private companies for the procurement of the Covid-19 vaccine.
“Not only the United States, the United Kingdom and Turkey but even India and Sub-Saharan African countries have started vaccinating their people against Covid-19, but the response of our federal government on acquiring vaccines for the people is very slow and disappointing. We want the federal government to allow us to negotiate with foreign countries and private companies to purchase vaccine directly for the people of Sindh,” she told a news conference in Karachi.
Accompanied by Sindh Local Government and Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah and University of Karachi International Centre for Chemical & Biological Sciences (ICCBS) Director Dr Iqbal Chaudhry, the health minister criticised the federal government for making slow decisions to acquire one or more Covid-19 vaccines for the people of Pakistan, and asked why the federal government was hesitant to use Chinese vaccines in Pakistan when several countries had started vaccinating their people with them.
“The federal government itself has announced the procurement of Chinese vaccine Sinopharm, whose trials have successfully been completed at the ICCBS. This vaccine has been used in the UAE, Bahrain and some other countries, so there is no issue in its safety and efficacy. I wonder why the government is delaying its deployment in Pakistan,” she observed.
Claiming that all arrangements had been completed for the deployment of vaccine in Sindh as the provincial government had even conducted the ‘dry run’ or rehearsal of the vaccination in Karachi and other districts of the province, Dr Azra said that all that the Sindh government needed now was the vaccine, as the novel coronavirus was mutating rapidly. She added that due to rapid changes in the genome of the virus, nobody knew if the available vaccines would be effective against the coronavirus in the days to come.
When her attention was drawn towards the emergency use authorisation granted by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) to the Astrazeneca’s ‘AZD1222’ vaccine in the country, she said that a private supplier had been allowed by Drap to procure it for Pakistan, and that she would request the federal government to allow the Sindh government to procure it from the private supplier for the people of Sindh.
“This vaccine by the Oxford-Astrazeneca, whose emergency use authorisation has been given by Drap to the private supplier, will be available very shortly in Pakistan, and we wish to procure it directly from the private party. Secondly, we want to deploy the Sinopharm vaccine, and in this regard we need permission to talk to the Chinese government directly.”
To a query, she said vaccination against Covid-19 was immensely important because it was feared that those who would not be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus would not be allowed to travel abroad.