Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday received the first shot of vaccination against COVID-19 and urged the citizens of his country to ensure the full implementation of norms to prevent the surge in cases of coronavirus.
Khan, 67, was vaccinated as part of the nationwide anti-coronavirus vaccination campaign which is underway in its first phase.
"Prime Minister Imran Khan was vaccinated today. On the occasion, the he appealed to the nation to ensure full implementation of SOPs in view of the third wave of the pandemic," according to a tweet by his office.
The COVID-19 vaccine is being provided to people 60 years of age and above and to front-line health workers.
Pakistan on Thursday also imposed smart lockdowns in areas worst hit by the coronavirus as the country recorded a sharp increase in the positive cases.
All markets, shopping malls, offices, and restaurants will remain closed in the areas of smart lockdown. However, grocery stores, hospitals, pharmacies, bakeries, meat and milk shops will be allowed to remain open.
Punjab province Health Minister Yasmin Rashid said that smart lockdowns are imposed in Gujrat, Sialkot, and Hafizabad, which will remain in effect till March 30 in Gujrat, March 24 in Sialkot and March 26 in Hafizabad.
"We have to save more people from the danger of being infected. The coronavirus is spreading rapidly because of not taking precautions," Rashid said.
Minister for Planning Asad Umar, who is also head of National Command and Control Centre that deals with the pandemic, warned that stricter restrictions on activities might be enforced if the compliance of standard operating procedures (SOPs) did not improve.
"Sharp spike in covid positivity. Hospital daily admissions & people in critical care rising fast. If sop compliance does not improve, we will be forced to place stronger restrictions on activities. Please be very very careful," he tweeted.
He also urged the people to remain careful as the new (UK) 'strain spreads faster and is more deadly' as compared to the Wuhan variant of the COVID-19 virus.
The fresh measures were taken as Pakistan recorded the highest 3,495 new coronavirus cases in a single-day after three months as the national tally of infections reached 615,810 on Thursday, according to the official data.
It is the highest number of new cases in a day since December 6 last year when 3,795 cases were recorded, according to the ministry of National Health Services reported.
The ministry data shows that 61 people died in the last 24 hours, taking the COVID-19 death toll to 13,717. Another 2,062 patients were in critical conditions.
Meanwhile, 1,634 patients recovered from the deadly disease during the day, taking the total number of recoveries to 577,501.
The sharp rise in the coronavirus cases came as the second batch of 500,000 Sinopharm vaccines sent by China reached Pakistan on Wednesday.
Pakistan officials last week said that the country was hit by the third wave of the pandemic.