While 332 of the total 783 new coronavirus cases were detected in Punjab in a single day, the federal government provided thousands of addresses and names to the provinces enabling them to implement the ‘test, trace and quarantine (TTQ)’ policy.
“There is a need to focus more on locally transmitted cases when the share of locally transmitted cases has reached 81 per cent. Provinces will track, trace and quarantine the contacts of the confirmed cases to slow down the spread of the virus,” said Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza while speaking at a news conference on Sunday.
He said the TTQ policy had been approved during the last meeting of the National Coordination Committee on Covid-19.
“After the meeting, federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar had shared the details of TTQ. It is a new policy under which the provincial governments, with the support of district administrations, will locate the contacts of the confirmed cases and will test them,” he said.
He announced that the number of Covid-19 tests would increase manifold in coming days due to the TTQ policy. So far, over 13,300 people have tested positive for coronavirus. The virus has claimed over 275 lives, including 16 during the last day, across the country.
According to the PM’s aide, 783 cases were reported during the last 24 hours. Of them, 332 cases were detected in Punjab, 287 in Sindh, 85 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 66 in Balochistan, 12 in Islamabad, while only one person in Gilgit-Baltistan tested positive for Covid-19. Currently, he said, 49 patients were in critical condition.
Referring to the grievances of health professionals about the unavailability of personal protective equipment (PPEs), the PM’s aide said the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had provided PPEs directly to hospitals. “PPEs have been provided to 204 hospitals of Punjab, 80 hospitals of Sindh, 100 of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, four hospitals of Balochistan, 11 of Islamabad Capital Territory Administration and eight hospitals of Azad Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
Dr Mirza reiterated that there was no shortage of PPEs, but the real issue was about proper use of PPEs.
While sharing the countrywide data, the PM’s aide said as many as 144,365 tests had been conducted to date. Of them, 6,218 tests were conducted during the past 24 hours, he added.
Meanwhile, the meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Covid-19 was held to discuss the situation of the disease across the country.
The meeting, chaired by federal minister Asad Umar, also discussed the implementation of a guideline regarding Ramazan.
The meeting was told that the guideline was being implemented in rural areas where local political leadership was giving awareness to the masses.
Mr Umar was of the opinion that the provinces could also brief the NCOC regarding the implementation of Ramazan guideline.
Minister for Interior Brig (retd) Ijaz Shah told the participants in the meeting that urban population needed to be educated to follow the guideline, as villagers were adhering to the guideline. He said people should be sensitised that usual business in urban centres could not be run during this Ramazan.
He said the political leadership, particularly at the district and union council level, had played a key role in educating the population in villages.
The masses have been asked to adopt social distancing and avoid visiting the places of rush.
Dr Mirza said the curve of Covid-19 cases had started straightening at the global level, indicating that the situation was becoming stable.
“Around three million people have been infected across the globe and over 200,000 deaths have been reported. However, as the curve has started becoming straight so it is hoped that the situation will improve in coming days,” he said.
Dr Mirza assured doctors of full support from government for addressing their genuine grievances. The government was well aware of problems of doctors and paramedical staff, he said while talking to a private TV channel, adds APP.
Complete lockdown not feasible
Complete lockdown as being demanded by doctors was not a feasible option, he said, reiterating that a complete shutdown would add to the miseries of daily wage earners and labour community. However, he said social distance and other precautionary measures besides a strict lockdown in particular areas, where coronavirus patients had been detected, could be possible for the protection of the community living there.
In reply to a question about political motives behind such conferences being held by doctors, the PM’s rejected such perception and appreciated the paramedical staff, doctors and nurses for playing frontline role in treating Covid-19 patients.
He said the government in consultation with religious scholars and Ulema had advised mosques administrations to follow standard operating procedure besides other precautionary steps for the safety of visitors.
He said Pakistan was a poor country and a complete lockdown would open new challenges for the poor segment of society.
Meanwhile, prominent health experts, including Dr Abdul Bari of Indus Hospital, demanded that the government ensure strict lockdown in the country. Dr Bari said Pakistan’s health system could not afford a large number of coronavirus patients that might rise in coming days due to the opening of mosques and other outlets for public.