ISLAMABAD: Pakistan received another tranche of 3.5 million Pfizer anti-COVID-19 vaccines from the United States, the US embassy in Islamabad said on Wednesday, as the South Asian nation continues to battle a fourth wave of infections.
Pakistan reported 2,714 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, according to its pandemic response monitor, which took the overall tally to 1,212,809. Seventy-three people died of the virus during this period, taking the death toll to 26,938.
So far, 1,108,339 people have recovered from the virus and a total of 22,873,298 individuals have been fully vaccinated, according to official figures.
“We’re thrilled to announce the arrival of another tranche of 3.5 million Pfizer vaccine doses to Pakistan, bringing the total number of COVID-19 vaccine doses donated by the United States to Pakistan to 15.7 million,” the US embassy said in a Twitter post.
Earlier this month, the US shipped 6.6 million Pfizer doses to Pakistan through COVAX, a global initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, to help the country vaccinate its population against the coronavirus.
On September 13, the Sindh government received 320,580 Pfizer doses sent by the US, the US State Department said in a statement.
The Pakistani government has also decided to reopen education institutes across the country from September 16 on the recommendation of the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), which oversees Pakistan’s pandemic response.
Earlier in September, the NCOC announced strict restrictions for 24 districts where the coronavirus positivity ratio was considered alarmingly high.
The monitor not only reduced the number of these districts to five in a recent meeting, but also relaxed some of the restrictions previously imposed in these vulnerable areas.
“All types of education institutes countrywide will follow staggered opening (50 percent attendance, 3 x days a week) from 16th September, 21, onwards,” it said in a notification.
The decision was made after a “detailed stock of the disease situation in the country, daily hospital admissions and critical care occupancy vis-a-vis requirement of oxygen was carried out.”
The NCOC named Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Sargodha and Gujrat in Punjab and Bannu in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as high disease prevalence districts. According to the notification, market and business activities will only be allowed in these five districts until 8pm, though they will be permitted until 10pm in other parts of the country.
Traders in the vulnerable districts will also be required to shut down their shops on Friday and Saturday, instead of one day a week elsewhere.
The NCOC maintained strict restrictions on indoor dining, weddings and other gatherings in these five districts. All religious shrines remain closed in these cities.
Pakistan began its immunization campaign in February.