New Delhi, June 11:

In what comes as an unusual move to tackle coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine hesitancy, the provincial government in Pakistan’s Punjab has now decided to block the SIM cards of unvaccinated citizens, news agency ANI reported on Friday. The decision was taken at a meeting in Lahore presided over by the province’s health minister Dr. Yasmin Rashid. The move is seemingly aimed at forcing all those citizens who refuse to get themselves vaccinated to do so at the earliest.

Dr. Rashid, the provincial health minister in Pakistan’s Punjab, said that there has been a “considerable decrease” in Covid-19 cases in the province due to mass vaccinations. However, a report compiled by the Punjab primary health department shows that the province still failed to achieve its set target for Covid-19 vaccination, reports ARY News, adding that around 300,000 recipients of the first dose of the vaccine never returned for the second dose since the start of Pakistan’s mass inoculation drive on February 2.

An official of Pakistan’s ministry of national health services (NHS) said that the administration is identifying and categorising the people who never showed up for the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on their due dates. “There is a possibility that some of them might have died before getting the second dose,” He noted that while a section of these people might have contracted the coronavirus after receiving the first dose and decided not to get the second, others might simply have fallen prey to negative propaganda regarding the vaccine.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s finance minister Shaukat Tarin is set to present the country’s budget speech in capital Islamabad on Friday afternoon, as he faces a challenge in walking the fine line between spending big over post-Covid economic recovery and keeping the budget deficit in check as Pakistan emerges from the more infectious third wave of the coronavirus disease (Covid pandemic.