Muhammad Asad Lal
Dr. Faisal Sultan, Pakistan’s health minister, warned on Monday that the country’s fourth wave of COVID-19 infections was coming to an end, but that a fifth wave might emerge in the winter if the country’s national vaccination effort does not speed up.
The announcement comes after Pakistan reported less than 2,000 new coronavirus infections for the second day in a row on Tuesday.
According to the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), the country’s official pandemic response organization, 1,757 persons tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hours, and 41 died as a result of it.
Sultan, the prime minister’s health advisor, said in an interview, “According to the current numbers that we have, it appears that the fourth wave is gradually decreasing in intensity,”
“So, absolutely, the fourth wave is weakening, as are the number of [positive] cases and the percentage of positivity, as well as the health system’s capacity, which is the most crucial factor that we track.”
Sultan, on the other hand, warned that if vaccination rates are not increased, Pakistan could face a fifth wave of diseases.
“Based on worldwide knowledge and data, as well as previous epidemic history and how the virus has behaved thus far, it is possible that there may be more increases in the number of patients in the following months, but this is all conjuncture,” he said. “If we can ramp up vaccination in this month and in October-November, we will be in a position to fairly declare that even if there are future wavelets or rises, they will be well controlled.”
To protect the country from the pandemic, Pakistan’s health chief stated that the government planned to vaccinate 100 percent of the eligible people in 20-25 major cities. So far, around 17 percent of the eligible population (those over the age of 15) has been fully vaccinated, he continued.
“We are better than we were, but we still have a long way to go.” We believe that between 70 and 100 million individuals should be vaccinated by the end of the year,” Sultan added.
Sultan added that restrictions on unvaccinated people were necessary specially for activities that posed a danger of disease spread.
He explained, “Tying a city’s or zone’s vaccination rate to the relaxations that would be provided would be a wonderful incentive to ensure that the administration and people of such locations engage in the immunization to prevent unnecessary and painful restrictions.”
“Our vaccination goal is possible, and if we achieve it, limitations may be eased.” I feel the next two months will be important in bringing us to the point where we can either remove the mask entirely or partially.”
Concerned about the influence of COVID-19 on other immunization programs and epidemics, the country’s health chief said the country was preparing its public health response system to handle multiple challenges at once.
“We were able to leverage and utilize what was already in place while also bolstering the opposing side. For example, we haven’t had a single case of polio in eight months. So, in terms of polio, we are in the best conceivable condition that we have ever had,” Sultan explained.
When asked about the reliability of quick PCR COVID-19 testing in Pakistan in the aftermath of concerns about findings from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sultan stated it was difficult to obtain 100 percent correct results.
“On this topic, we had extremely direct communication with the UAE. We had a very candid, open, and healthy debate. We presented our ideas and suggestions, and we also heard from them. We intend to reduce this inaccuracy to a bare minimum, as in fractions,” he stated.
During the pandemic, Islamabad’s cooperation with Gulf countries, according to the health chief, has intensified.
“There is a great deal of respect and esteem for Pakistani health experts in all of these nations, and it will only become better,” Sultan said. “This old practice of our health workers assisting in Gulf countries will continue.”