Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan. says the Covid-19 variants especially the Delta form, which was originally identified in India, are affecting Pakistan’s current pandemic situation.
Addressing a media briefing in Islamabad, SAPM Sultan said: “We have shown a lack of care as well but side-by-side, the effect of new virus variants, especially the Delta variant, is appearing in our epidemic.”
Dr. Sultan’s remark came only three days after Asad Umar, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives, claimed the Delta variant was to blame for the country’s impending fourth wave of Covid-19.
2 weeks back I had tweeted that our artifical intelligence models are showing possible emergence of 4th wave. Now there are clear early signs of 4th wave starting. Poor sop compliance, coupled with spread of variants of concern, indian variant in particular, are the main cause.
— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) July 9, 2021
Umar’s warning came only a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan voiced alarm about a fourth wave of Covid-19 in a video message, calling the Delta version the “biggest concern.”
Of his address to the country, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif mentioned Afghanistan, Indonesia, and other Delta-affected nations, and voiced worry over the rise in Covid-19 cases in Pakistan, only days after they were on the decrease.
“We fear the Indian variant could strike Pakistan and as a precautionary measure, we need to adhere to the SOPs (standard operating procedures),” he had said.
The existence of several Covid-19 variations in Pakistan, including the Delta version, has also been verified by the NCOC. According to Pakistan Divisional Commissioner Syed Gulzar Hussain Shah, at least 15 individuals in the Rawalpindi area were diagnosed with the variant last week. Authorities have advised smart lockdowns in ten Rawalpindi neighborhoods where Delta variant cases have been detected.
Sultan said in his message today that it was necessary to increase compliance with current non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), and that the government would do so in two ways: by making a mass appeal to the nation to follow restrictions such as mask-wearing and avoiding crowds, and by taking administrative actions to increase compliance, focusing on big cities and tourist destinations.
He added that smart lockdowns would also be used again and “we think there are controls and restrictions needed on mobility as well.”
Additionally, vaccination will be required for tourism, and this need would be “strictly enforced” during the forthcoming Eid holidays, according to Dr. Sultan, at the request of the National Command and Operation Centre and the Ministry of Health.
The SAPM said that vaccinations were a “very important strategy” in the fight against Covid-19 and that there were enough doses available in the country.
“Around 450,000 vaccines doses were administered yesterday and an additional six million doses are coming.”
SAPM Sultan said vaccination was the only way to “protect our population from Covid-19 spread”.