ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Saturday clarified that no vaccine was being prepared after reports emerged that the country was on the verge of developing it with the help of China even as the coronavirus cases climbed to 12,644.
Advisor on Health Zafar Mirza in his daily media briefing said that currently there was no coronavirus vaccine in Pakistan and no work of any kind was going on for its development.
“Let me clarify that while there are several initiatives to develop vaccines across the world, there is no such initiative in Pakistan at the moment,” he said.
But he said that a Chinese company developing a vaccine contacted Pakistan and offered it to become a part of clinical trials.
“We have asked for more information from them,” Mirza said.
He said that a similar offer was made by a company in Japan and Pakistan asked for specific details.
Mirza said that 79 per cent of the all coronavirus cases in Pakistan were locally transmitted.
“It is now fair to say that our outbreak is now mostly of local transmission,” he said.
As part of efforts to reach out to the people, the government launched a telemedicine portal where doctors, both local and abroad, can give advice to patients about the coronavirus, according to Dr Mirza.
The Ministry of National Health Services reported that Pakistan’s coronavirus tally touched 12,644, as government asked people to follow official guidelines while visiting mosques in Ramadan.
It said that three patients died on Saturday, taking the total death toll to 256. Another 2,755 recovered from the disease.
The largest province of Punjab reported 5,378 cases, Sindh 4,232, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 1,793, Balochistan 656, Gilgit-Baltistan 307, Islamabad 223 and Kashmir 55 cases.
So far 138,147 tests were done including 6,780 during the last 24 hours, according to the data issued by the ministry.
It also said that 785 patients were diagnosed during the last 24 hours.
China has sent more medical supplies including polymerase chain reaction testing kits, surgical masks, protective cover all suits, N95 masks and ventilators, according to a statement by the Army.
Earlier, a Chinese medical team of specialists headed by Major General Huang Qingzhen arrived on Friday. The specialists will stay in Pakistan for two months to provide their guidance.
The government on Friday extended the lockdown till May 9.
However, Prime Minister Imran Khan, as previously, opposed total lockdown.
“When we sought a total lockdown without thinking about the consequences for the daily wage earners, the street vendors, the labourers, all of whom face poverty & hunger for themselves & their families. May Allah forgive us our sin of neglecting our dispossessed & poor citizens,” he tweeted.
At the start of Ramzan, President Arif Alvi and Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri visited different mosques in Islamabad to review the precautionary measures taken for the special Taraweeh prayers.
As per the governent’s decision, the suspension of International flight operations has been extended upto May 15.
Remaining provisions as applicable to the suspension of International flights reflected in the previous orders remain unchanged, it said in a statement.
Meanwhile, after several weeks of warnings, the government finally decided to stop all outsiders from going to Lal Masjid for payers on Friday.
Dawn reported that a large number of female students belonging to Jamia Hafsa were called a day earlier to stay at the mosque to counter any police action.
Maulana Abdul Aziz, a cleric, had been openly challenging the precautionary directives and denounced the government’s advice for social distancing.
Several cases have been filed against him and his bodyguards for displaying weapons during the past four weeks.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) asked people to follow preventive measures of social distancing during Taraweeh. “While we have to take the medical advice seriously and avoid going to the mosques as much as possible, but it is preferred to observe Taraweeh at home,” PUC chairman Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi said in a statement.