SIM cards to be blocked for those refusing vaccine, says Punjab govt

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The SIM cards of any citizen refusing to get vaccinated against the coronavirus will be blocked, said an official of the provincial government.

This step was taken in an attempt to drive up the vaccination drive and accelerate the procedure for getting the country vaccinated. This ties into the fact that walk-in vaccinations for all adults will be open from June 12.

“Final decision has been taken to block the mobile SIM cards of people not getting vaccinated,” Punjab Specialised Healthcare Department spokesman Syed Hammad Raza said.

A high-level meeting chaired by Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid also decided to set up mobile vaccination camps outside major shrines in the province, and fully open businesses in all districts where at least 20 per cent of the population has been vaccinated.

Vaccinated people will be allowed to go to cinema halls and restaurants and marriage halls will be opened. People suffering from terminal illnesses like HIV/AIDS and cancer will now be vaccinated on priority, according to the spokesperson.

The meeting was given a briefing on the measures taken to control the spread of the virus and it appreciated the health department’s performance for the decrease in the number of infections and mortality rate.

“We have seen considerable decrease in [the] number of cases. The government is utilising all our resources for control of Covid-19 under the leadership of Chief Minister Usman Buzdar,” Rashid was quoted as saying.

She said the credit for the reduction in case numbers went to the administration, adding that as many as 677 vaccination centres were operating in the province.

After the opening of the walk-in facility for all adults, she said, people would be able to get inoculated upon showing their CNIC.

The Punjab chief secretary said that maximum possible facilities were being provided at vaccination centres. He said in districts where 20pc of the population has been vaccinated, all businesses will be opened subject to compliance with mask-wearing.

Residents of Punjab can contact the toll-free 1033 helpline for complaints or queries regarding vaccination.

The decisions come a day after the National Command and Operation Centre announced that coronavirus vaccines will be mandatory for all public- and private-sector employees, and that government employees must be fully vaccinated by June 30.

Moreover, Lahore Deputy Commissioner Mudassar Riaz on Wednesday installed a coronavirus vaccination centre at Lahore College for Women University.

During his visit to the institute, Riaz reviewed arrangements and expressed his satisfaction. Model Town Assistant Commissioner Ibrahim Arbab, LCWU Vice Chancellor Bushra Mirza and other officials were present on the occasion.

Riaz said it was necessary to vaccinate teachers, students and administrative staff in order to reopen the education sector of the country, adding that all professors, staff and students would be vaccinated at this point.

He said that coronavirus guidelines were being strictly enforced across the city, adding that after their implementation, a reduction in the daily new cases was observed.

“District administration will continue its efforts to ensure the SOPs are enforced in provincial capital,” he added.