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Pakistan Origin Card holders ruled out for COVID-19 inoculation

ANI | Updated: Mar 09, 2021 12:30 IST

Islamabad [Pakistan], March 9 (ANI): Pakistan government on Monday was exposed to its failed health system as people holding Pakistan Origin Cards (POCs) and foreign national spouses of Pakistanis were found ineligible to be inoculated against COVID-19, reported Dawn.
Islamabad is going to launch the COVID-19 vaccination drive for senior citizens on March 10 (Wednesday).
According to the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) website, the POC programme endeavours to provide eligible foreigners with unprecedented incentives to get back to their roots, while ensuring that the motherland remains tightly integrated with expatriates worldwide, which includes multiple visa-free entry into Pakistan, indefinite stay in Pakistan with exemption from reporting to police or foreigners' registration offices.
They also have the right to purchase, sell, own, deal with and dispose of movable and immovable property anywhere in Pakistan, right to open and operate bank accounts in Pakistan, swift immigration into/from Pakistan at all designated routes, port and places. It states that POC was proof of identity in place of National Identity Card and the holders of the card can obtain employment, reported Dawn.
According to Nadra sources, there are 180,000 persons to whom POCs have been issued. However, it could not be confirmed how many of them were over 60 years of age.

Citing an official of the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS), who requested anonymity, it was confirmed that helpline 1166 was not registering the POC holders for vaccination, reported Dawn.
Javed Akhtar, in his 70s, told Dawn that he had sent his Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) number to the helpline and received confirmation that he was registered and would soon get the jab of COVID-19 vaccine. However, he regretted, it did not work for his American wife, though she had been living with him in Pakistan for decades.
"I sent her POC number, which also has 13 digits just like CNIC, but I was informed that it was not a valid card. I tried it again and again and every time got the same message. Later, when I inquired I was shocked to know that POC holders were ineligible for vaccination," he said.
Meanwhile, NHS admitted that the POC holders are very much Pakistanis and decided to address the issue at the earliest, reported Dawn.
According to the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) data, as many as 1,592 new cases of COVID-19 and 22 more deaths were reported over the past 24 hours.
There were 18,415 active cases in the country. A total of 2,071 patients were hospitalised across the country and 211 of them were on ventilators on Monday. (ANI)