ISLAMABAD: Since the countrywide Covid-19 cases crossed the 500,000 mark and the number of deaths reached 10,644 on Sunday, on Monday, Pakistan will launch the first polio drive of the current year under strict precautionary steps and protocols (today).
2.899 cases and 46 deaths from Covid-19 were recorded in a single day, according to data from the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC). With the new figure, the country’s overall number of infected persons has risen to 502,416 with a recovery of 456,969.
Data from Federating Units revealed that Sindh reported the largest number of incidents, which was 225,509. Since the population of Punjab is about 50 percent of the country’s total population, in the state, 144,909 people have contracted the virus.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has reported 61,148 cases, while 39,120 patients have been reported in Islamabad, which is a city with just two million residents.
Moreover, the data showed that 18,373 people in Balochistan were sick, 8,478 in Azad Kashmir and 4,879 in Gilgit-Baltistan.
The country’s overall number of active cases stood at 34,803 as of Sunday.
Multan had the highest percentage of occupancy at 51pc, followed by Bahawalpur at 41pc, Lahore at 34pc and Islamabad at 33pc, out of the total number of ventilators reserved for Covid-19 patients.
Peshawar was on top, according to data on oxygenated beds, with 49pc of beds in use, 35pc in Karachi, 34pc in Multan and 31pc in Islamabad.
Nationwide polio drive
A five-day national polio immunisation programme will begin on Monday, during which more than 40 million children under the age of 5 will be vaccinated nationwide.
Kids aged six to 59 months will also be given a supplemental dose of vitamin A fall. In order to shield them from polio and other diseases, this will help create general immunity among susceptible children.
Around 285,000 polio frontline staff will meet parents and caregivers at their doorsteps, keeping with stringent Covid-19 precautionary measures and protocols when vaccinating youngsters, according to data provided by the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) for Polio. Wearing a glove, using hand sanitisers and keeping a safe distance during vaccination would be part of these steps.
“Our goal is to ensure that children are vaccinated promptly and repeatedly. This is important for reducing the deficit in immunity and shielding children from polio and other diseases. The government is committed to achieving the target of a polio-free Pakistan that needs the nation’s full support, especially from communities and parents and caregivers of children under five years of age, said Dr Faisal Sultan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for National Health Services.
A rare chance to maximise the gains achieved in 2020 is the year 2021. In 2020, with the help of different partners and the commitment of our heroes, the frontline staff, who defied the catastrophic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and safely initiated high-quality campaigns, the initiative implemented six high-quality campaigns.
Dr Rana Mohammad Safdar, Director General of Health and NEOC Coordinator, said the country was looking forward to maintaining the progress made in 2020 by 2021.
We are continuing our efforts to increase critical immunisation coverage across Pakistan alongside our plans to conduct quality polio campaigns. Repeated campaigns are crucial to give children under the age of five a rapid increase in immunity, he added.
“The programme aims to limit the geographical scope of poliovirus circulation to high-risk areas only, with our highly committed frontline workers and the cooperation of parents and caregivers, and to get closer to the goal of eradication in 2021,” Dr Rana said.
According to the Declaration, the programme will continue to maintain high levels of leadership support across political and social segments and will further strengthen the structures of programme implementation, better engage with priority communities, strengthen essential immunizations, deliver integrated services to under-served communities and maintain coordination with Afghanistan’s counterparts in relation to under-served communities
The polio programme operates in collaboration with different sectors of society and groups, including families, local influencers, paediatric and medical groups, the government, civic movements, religious leaders, sports organisations and the Pakistan Cricket Board, it should be noted. They all support immunisation and the aim of achieving a Pakistan free of polio.
Pakistan, along with its neighbour, Afghanistan, is one of the two polio-endemic countries in the world.