The Sindh government on Saturday opposed the reopening of schools in Karachi and Hyderabad, which are badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Addressing a news conference along with Nasir Hussain Shah and Secretary Health, Health Minister Azra Fazal Pechuho was of the view that the most number of coronavirus cases were reported from Karachi and Hyderabad so schools should not be reopened there. She also demanded of the federal government to allow the Sindh government to buy vaccine. “If the Centre permits the Sindh government would like to purchase the vaccine for its people itself,” she added. “We don’t know when the vaccine will arrive in Pakistan. It seems we would be the last country to receive the coronavirus vaccine. The federal government should allow us to import vaccine,” she added. She said that the Sindh government wanted to procure Sinopharm, which is produced by China, as well as other vaccines being manufactured around the world. The minister said trials of the Sinopharm vaccine had been successful and pointed out that it was being used in China, UAE and Bahrain as well. “We have had no reports of any problems [caused by Sinopharm],” she said. “The Chinese government had allowed ICCBS (International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences) to procure the vaccine as it conducted its trials. But the Chinese government told us to contact them through the federal government or the foreign ministry. So this is my request to the federal government to allow us to procure this vaccine,” she added. The minister said the Centre should also play its part in providing vaccines to Sindh but the provincial government must be allowed to procure vaccines for its residents also. She emphasised that the Sindh government wanted to start a vaccination drive as soon as possible “so our people can be safe and secure”. The health minister also stressed that more than one vaccine will have to be procured as it will not be possible to get just one in a quantity that would be enough to vaccinate the entire population. Speaking about the Sputnik V vaccine, which has been developed by Russia, Pechuho said, “We cannot place orders with manufacturers because other countries have already placed orders for huge quantities.” She ruled out the Pfizer vaccine, saying that the country does not have the required storage facilities. With schools reopening across Pakistan on Monday, the Punjab government has issued instructions for schools to comply with. A notification issued by the School Education Department informed the schools about the decisions taken in the Inter-Provincial Education Ministers Conference (IPEMC). It said that rules have been developed in line with the federal education ministry’s notification issued on January 5. According to the notification, students from all the educational institutes will attend classes on alternative days. The student ratio must remain at a 50% on each day. The provincial department stated that the board examinations for SSC and HSSC students will be held in May and June. “The Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP) communicated earlier shall continue to be followed by the Public Schools. Assessment criteria and Examinations schedule for 5th and 8th grade shall be communicated separately by the Punjab Examination Commission,” read the notification.