At new vaccine center in Islamabad, Pakistanis can pick their COVID-19 jabs from menu

People are seen at the registration counter before getting inoculated with the jab of CanSino Biologics' Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination camp held in Islamabad on May 19, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 28 May 2021

At new vaccine center in Islamabad, Pakistanis can pick their COVID-19 jabs from menu

  • Inoculation center in F9 Park is the only facility in the country where people can ask to be administered a vaccine of their choice
  • Center has jabs of AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sinovac and CanSino, is designed to administer 7,000 shots daily at 75 counters

RAWALPINDI: Which COVID-19 vaccine do you want to get: the AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sinovac or CanSino?
At a newly inaugurated vaccination center in Islamabad’s F9 Park, Pakistanis can now choose which vaccine they want to be administered — the only inoculation facility in the country to offer such a facility. 
The center, which has 75 counters and is designed to administer 7,000 shots a day, was inaugurated on May 19 by planning minister Asad Umar, who also heads the National Command and Operations Center that oversees Pakistan’s pandemic response.
“The center provides all four vaccines currently available in Pakistan,” Dr. Fawad Khalid Khan, a doctor at the facility, told Arab News on Thursday. “These include AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sinovac and CanSino. Most of the time the clients have the option to choose whatever vaccine they want for themselves.” 
Dr. Osman Ulvi, a medical officer at the vaccination center, said the range of vaccines available at the facility met required international standards.
“As long as what you want is available, we will furnish your request,” he added.
On Wednesday, Pakistan opened up its coronavirus vaccination campaign to everyone aged 19 or older as it scrambles to protect more of its 220 million people. Pakistan initially had to deal with vaccination hesitancy and a shortage of vaccine supplies and had limited shots to people aged 30 or over.
But with purchases and donations from China and allocations from the World Health Organization and the GAVI Vaccine Alliance, it has now secured more than 18 million doses and is keen to get them out into the population.
Just on May 8, Pakistan received 1.2 million doses of AstraZeneca and has also started locally producing China’s single-dose CanSino jabs with the help of Chinese raw material and a technology transfer agreement. The government says the country aims to produce three million doses a month locally and is urging the public to get shots. 
In fact, the message of the F9 Park center is that it offers faster, more efficient service so people deterred by long lines at other centers too can be persuaded to come in for their jabs. 
At present, the estimated maximum waiting time at the Islamabad center is 30 minutes. At other centers around the country, people have often had to wait for up to three hours or more to get a shot. 
“We have established this mass vaccination center to reduce waiting time and have been getting good feedback,” Dr. Zaeem Zia, district health officer in Islamabad, told Arab News. “If you think that other vaccination facilities are taking too much time, just come to our mass vaccination center.”
“Everybody should get themselves vaccinated since it will help us contain the virus in Islamabad,” he said, “and make life safer for everyone.”


Scottish climber dies on Pakistan’s K2 

Updated 38 min 44 sec ago

Scottish climber dies on Pakistan’s K2 

  • Allen was killed after being hit by an avalanche while attempting a new route on the mountain over the weekend 
  • Allen’s death comes week after South Korea’s Kim Hong-bin was killed in a fall descending from nearby Broad Peak

ISLAMABAD: Scottish climber Rick Allen has died while attempting to summit Pakistan’s K2, his expedition team said, the latest death on the world’s second-highest peak.
Allen was killed after being hit by an avalanche while attempting a new route on the mountain over the weekend. His body was recovered on Sunday evening.
“After consulting with his family and friends, the legend will be buried this morning under the foot of Mighty K2,” Karakorum Expeditions wrote on Facebook Monday.
A charity that Allen was raising money for during the climb also confirmed his death.
“Rick died doing what he loved the most and lived his life with the courage of his convictions,” tweeted Partners Relief & Development, adding that two other climbers on the expedition survived the avalanche.
Allen’s death comes a week after South Korea’s Kim Hong-bin was killed after falling into a crevasse while descending from the nearby Broad Peak.
With Pakistan’s borders open and few other places to go due to the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s summer climbing season is attracting a large number of alpinists.
The summer season follows history being made in northern Pakistan as a team of Nepali climbers became the first to summit K2 in the winter.
But at least five other climbers died on K2’s slopes while a sixth went missing during an ascent on a nearby peak.
Known as “the savage mountain,” K2 has harsh conditions — winds can blow at more than 200 kilometers per hour (124 miles per hour) and temperatures can drop to minus 60 degrees Celsius (minus 76 Fahrenheit).
Unlike the world’s highest peak Mount Everest, which has been scaled by thousands of climbers young and old, K2 is much less traveled.


Pakistan welcomes resumption of Umrah for foreign pilgrims from August 10

Updated 26 July 2021

Pakistan welcomes resumption of Umrah for foreign pilgrims from August 10

  • Says will follow whatever mechanism Saudi government devises
  • Pakistani religious affairs and Saudi Hajj ministries coordinating

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan’s special assistant on the Middle East, Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, on Monday welcomed Saudi Arabia’s decision to resume the Umrah pilgrimage for international visitors, halted earlier due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Saudi media, the Kingdom has decided to resume International Umrah from the first of the Islamic month of Muharram, likely to fall on August 10 this year.
“We welcome the decision of resumption Umran for foreign pilgrims and whatever mechanism Saudi government will devise, Pakistan will follow that,” Ashrafi told Arab News. “Pakistani ministry of religious affairs and [Saudi] Ministry of Hajj and Umrah have contacts and if there will be any issues, both will coordinate on that.”
Media reports suggested COVID-19 vaccinations would be mandatory for all pilgrims.
Hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis would visit Saudi Arabia every year, mainly for Umrah and Hajj, before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Umrah is a pilgrimage which can be undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to Hajj, which has specific dates according to the Islamic lunar calendar.
Saudi Arabia closed its borders last February to foreign Umrah pilgrims, and in March stopped its own citizens and residents from taking part. Last July, it allowed a limited number of domestic pilgrims to perform the Hajj. This year too, Saudi Arabia restricted the annual Hajj pilgrimage to its own citizens and residents for the second year running in response to the coronavirus pandemic.


Four Pakistani soldiers die in road accident in Azad Kashmir

Updated 26 July 2021

Four Pakistani soldiers die in road accident in Azad Kashmir

  • The soldiers were in the semi-autonomous region to police local parliamentary polls
  • Their vehicle plunged down a ravine off a curvy mountain road in Azad Kashmir

ISLAMABAD: Four Pakistani soldiers died on Sunday when their vehicle plunged down a ravine off a curvy mountain road in Azad Kashmir, the part of the disputed Himalayan region administered by Pakistan, the military said in a statement.
The soldiers were in the semi-autonomous region to police its local parliamentary polls, it added. Another three soldiers and the driver were injured in the accident.
Violence has marred the voting, with local administration officials saying two supporters of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party were shot and killed at a polling station.
The shooting involved supporters of the rival Pakistan People’s Party, once led by former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was killed in 2007 as she campaigned.
Pakistan and neighbor India each control part of the former princely state of Kashmir. Both countries claim a united Kashmir as their own. They have fought two wars over Kashmir and have come close to another on more than one occasion.


Hundreds light candles in Pakistan for murdered ex-diplomat’s daughter 

Updated 26 July 2021

Hundreds light candles in Pakistan for murdered ex-diplomat’s daughter 

  • Noor Mukadam was killed and beheaded last week by suspect Zahir Jaffer at his house in Islamabad
  • Protests and candlelight vigils held in major Pakistani cities, including Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Multan

ISLAMABAD: Protests and candlelight vigils were held on Sunday in major Pakistani cities, including Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Multan, over last week’s killing of 27-year-old Noor Mukadam, the daughter of former Pakistani Ambassador to South Korea, Shaukat Mukadam.
Mukadam was allegedly killed and beheaded on Tuesday night, the eve of Eid Al-Adha, by suspect Zahir Jaffer at his house in Islamabad’s posh F-7/4 sector. Jaffer, his parents and two members of their household staff have been arrested in connection with the murder.
The protest in Islamabad on Sunday was organized by the Women’s Democratic Front (WDF) and the women’s rights organization, the Aurat Azadi March, with hundreds of demonstrators gathering in solidarity over violence against women in Pakistan.
“We demand an end to state impunity against patriarchal violence,” Ismat Shahjahan, WDF president, said, addressing protesters. “We want a complete overhaul in the very structures of the state and society that are contributing to femicide in Pakistan.”

Women holding posters against brutal killing of 27-year-old Noor Mukadam, daughter of former Pakistani Ambassador to South Korea, Shaukat Mukadam, Pakistan on July 25, 2021. (AN Photo)

Last week, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi expressed “my absolute condemnation of the recent violence and brutality against women.”

Protestors gather outside to protest brutal killing of 27-year-old Noor Mukadam, daughter of former Pakistani Ambassador to South Korea, Shaukat Mukadam at Islamabad Press Club in Islamabad, Pakistan on July 25, 2021 (AN Photo)

“This has no place in our society, lives, religion or culture,” he said. “We must work harder and do more for prevention & for justice.”

“For Saima, for Quratulain, for Noor,” he added, naming two other recent women murder victims.

Protestors gather outside to protest brutal killing of 27-year-old Noor Mukadam, daughter of former Pakistani Ambassador to South Korea, Shaukat Mukadam at Islamabad Press Club in Islamabad, Pakistan on July 25, 2021 (AN Photo)

A candlelight vigil in Islamabad’s Swiss Avenue Park followed Sunday evening’s protest. Similar vigils have also been held in Canada and Ireland where Mukadam spent many years growing up.

People light candles at a vigil to protest brutal killing of 27-year-old Noor Mukadam, daughter of former Pakistani Ambassador to South Korea, Shaukat Mukadam at Islamabad Press Club in Islamabad, Pakistan on July 25, 2021 (AN Photo)

Renowned rights activist Tahira Abdullah addressed the crowd at the vigil, standing beside the Mukadam family and leading chants of “Justice for Noor.”

The candlelight vigil held to protest the killing of 27-year-old Noor Mukadam, daughter of former Pakistani Ambassador to South Korea, Shaukat Mukadam, Pakistan on July 25, 2021. (AN Photo)

Ali Khan, a resident of Islamabad who attended the vigil with his family, said he had come out as part of “a drive for justice.”
“We need to show our support,” he said, “and we need our numbers to show we will not rest [until justice].”

 


Pakistan reports highest single-day increase in COVID-19 infections since May 22

Updated 26 July 2021

Pakistan reports highest single-day increase in COVID-19 infections since May 22

  • 3,752 people tested positive for coronavirus on July 25, with 32 deaths 
  • Last week, Pakistan passed grim milestone of a million infections since pandemic began

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan reported 3,752 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, a government portal showed, the highest single-day increase in infections since May 22.
Last week, Pakistan passed the grim milestone of one million cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began last year.
Infections have been steadily increasing as the more contagious Delta variant spreads, and authorities expect a new surge from public activities during the Eid Al-Adha holiday last week. 
About 30 nations have exceeded one million cases, and more than 190 million people have been infected worldwide, a number considered an undercount.
Pakistan last month announced it was easing wide-ranging coronavirus restrictions as infection numbers showed a steady decline on the back of strict lockdowns and an accelerated vaccination drive. The country of 220 million people has so far administered over 25 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, with infection numbers beginning to rise again.
“During last 24 hours most deaths occurred in Sindh [province] followed by Punjab,” Pakistan’s main pandemic response body, the NCOC, said in a statement. “Out of 32 deaths during last 24 hours 21 died on ventilators. 3,752 people tested Covid positive on 25 July. 32 people lost lives.”
“GET VACCINATED,” President Dr. Arif Alvi tweeted on Monday in response to the rising infections. “Save your friends, relatives and your nation. Don’t let the recent gains toward stability be sacrificed on the altar of neglect.”


Pakistan’s planning minister said on Sunday the country planned to accelerate its coronavirus vaccination drive and inoculate 40 percent of the population by the end of August.