Punjab releases Rs226m to check coronavirus spread: minister

Updated 01 Mar 2020


Men walk with face masks as a preventive measure along a sidewalk in Karachi, Pakistan on February 28. — Reuters/File
Men walk with face masks as a preventive measure along a sidewalk in Karachi, Pakistan on February 28. — Reuters/File

RAWALPINDI: Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan on Saturday said the Punjab government had released Rs226 million to check the spread of coronavirus in the province.

Addressing a press conference after visiting Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) Coronavirus Filter Clinic, the minister said 35 suspected patients of coronavirus were reported last week across the province but all of them tested negative.

He said the government was fully aware of the threat and had adopted all protective measures.

“Funds have been released to establish High Dependency Units in hospitals of all major cities besides installing screening machines at the entry points of the districts,” he said.

Mr Chohan said the funds would also be used to create public awareness about the precautionary measures against the virus. He said the government had also contacted religious scholars, prayer leaders and educational institutions in this regard.

Says last week 35 suspected patients were reported across province but all of them tested negative

“There is a need to inform people that coronavirus mortality rate is 2.5pc so there is no need to panic,” the minister said and added that the provincial government had asked the district administrations to ensure the availability of respirators in the market on the actual price and check their hoarding.

He said Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had formed a special committee of the provincial cabinet to monitor the facilities for the coronavirus patients.

“The health department daily shares a report with the special committee,” he said.

The minister asked citizens to ensure personal hygiene and wash their hands regularly.

He said the government would provide all medical facilities to the suspected as well as confirmed patients as per the protocol issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In reply to a question about the dengue virus, the minister said learning from the last year’s experience the provincial government had already launched fumigation to eliminate dengue mosquito larva.

He admitted that last year the dengue virus spread very fast in Rawalpindi but this season it would be controlled.

Asked about separate healthcare facility for coronavirus patients, Mr Chohan said Rawalpindi Institute of Urology (RIU) had been declared the focal hospital in the garrison city.

Giving additional information, Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) Medical Superintendent Dr Mohammad Raffique said besides the six-bed High Dependency Unit (HDU) two isolation wards of 16 beds each had been established at the BBH.

“On the directives of the Punjab government, a 100-bed facility has been established at the RIU for coronavirus patients,” he said.

The minister said the provincial government would issue 6,000 Insaf Health Cards among journalists. He requested the Lahore Press Club to collect journalists’ lists from all cities.

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2020