China to gift 0.5M more Sinopharm vaccine doses to Pakistan

Pakistan will receive another half a million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from China as a gift, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters following the formal launch of activities to celebrate 70 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Qureshi said Beijing has always helped Islamabad in difficult times.

“Today, on this occasion, China has offered another gift to the Pakistani nation and will send us 500,000 more doses of Sinopharm vaccine,” he said.

Read more: Pakistan to lift all coronavirus restrictions on commercial activities

On Feb. 1, Pakistan received the first batch of 500,000 doses of the vaccine as a gift from its longtime ally.

The country has already begun a much-awaited vaccination campaign. In the first phase, frontline health workers and those over age 65 are being inoculated.

In January, the government announced it has secured 17 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine through the UN-led COVAX initiative.

So far, the country’s drug regulator has approved the emergency use of China’s Sinopharm and CanSino, Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines.

Last week, authorities relaxed a number of restrictions on commercial activities and official work.

The time-limit for shopping centers, markets, and amusement parks has been lifted with immediate effect, whereas indoor dining and wedding ceremonies will be permitted from March 15, according to a statement from the National Command and Operation Center, which monitors the country’s anti-virus strategy.

Cinemas and shrines will also reopen with “stringent COVID-19 safety precautions” from March 15. The condition of 50% work from home has also been removed forthwith.

“Wearing of mask, social distancing, and smart lockdowns will continue,” the statement said.

Read more: Pakistan to get half a million Covid-19 vaccine doses as a gift from China

The decisions, the statement said, can be reviewed whenever deemed necessary. The long-pending local bodies elections might be planned by the Election Commission by the end of May or early June, it added.

Spectators’ attendance in the ongoing cricket league — Pakistan Super League — has been increased from 205 to 505 for pool matches, whereas full attendance will be allowed for play-offs with stringent “COVID-19 safety precautions” in the second week of March.

Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk