ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s information minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said on Tuesday the country had imported over $2 billion of coronavirus vaccines to protect people from the debilitating respiratory disease amid a rising current account deficit.
Addressing a news conference after the federal cabinet meeting, he said the government examined the COVID-19 situation caused by the spread of the omicron strain.
Pakistan’s top pandemic response body announced earlier in the day the country had reported 5,034 new cases of coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, taking the overall positivity ratio to 9.45 percent. It also informed that 827 COVID-19 patients were in critical care across Pakistan.
Hussain told the media the federal cabinet evaluated the pandemic situation along with the official vaccination campaign.
“Pakistan has imported more than $2 billion of vaccines to immunize its people,” he said. “The import of medicine had a major impact on our current account deficit as well.”
The minister emphasized it was important to get vaccinated amid rising number of new infections.
“Those who are fully vaccinated and have received booster shots are only negligibly affected by omicron,” he continued. “However, those who are not inoculated are suffering from this strain a lot more.”
According to a statement released by the Prime Minister Office after the meeting, the country’s planning minister Asad Umar gave a detailed briefing to the federal cabinet on the spread of the omicron variant, saying the number of current cases had increased to 5,000 per day while the hospitalization rate had increased by 2.5 times.
He added that the number of patients had gone up by 30 percent in intensive care units in Pakistan.
The statement said the cabinet called for ensuring the implementation of health care guidelines in the country, including the use of face masks and vaccinations to prevent the spread of the omicron variant.
“However, the cabinet reiterated its commitment that the government would refrain from taking steps that would harm business and economic activity,” it added.