Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf said on Saturday that Pakistan has decided to keep its western borders with Iran and Afghanistan as well as its Eastern border with India closed for two more weeks.
Dr Yusuf, while addressing a media briefing, stated that this was done in light of the current situation of the Covid-19 outbreak in the country. He had earlier tweeted the same on Friday.
He also announced that all flights will remain suspended in the country till April 4. In a subsequent clarification, he said that the only exception to the suspension of domestic and international flights would be if another country made a special request to bring its citizens back. He said, however, that the ports across the country will remain open and that screening was being conducted as required.
4 groups of people can be tested for coronavirus: Dr Zafar Mirza
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza, meanwhile, said that four groups of people can be tested for coronavirus in Pakistan.
- Asthma patients who have come in contact with Covid-19 patients
- Patients with respiratory illnesses or immuno-deficiencies
- Asthma patients or those with respiratory illnesses who are health workers
- Patients who are currently admitted in hospitals and are severely ill
He added that people who have other underlying conditions such as diabetes or heart problems and who have come into contact with Covid-19 patients or those under quarantine can also be tested.
Dr Mirza also said that the only valid test to diagnose Covid-19 was the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. He reminded citizens that the country only had a limited number of tests available and therefore everyone who wanted a test could not be tested. He requested citizens to take safety precautions if they develop mild symptoms.
Ventilators being procured as per need: Lt Gen Afzal
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt Gen Mohammad Afzal assured the nation that ventilators were being procured to deal with any pending shortages at hospitals across the country.
He said a flight carrying 15 ventilators was sent to Wuhan in China and will arrive tonight.
"We have placed an order for 679 ventilators. 400 of these should arrive within the next two weeks. Other countries have donated 125 to 150 ventilators to us as well, which should arrive within the next few days," he added.
"NDMA and the National Institute of Health are also trying to increase testing capacity in the country. In Karachi, 3 institutions, namely Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT), Jinnah Hospital and Indus Hospital, are being provided testing kits. We're also conducting feasibility studies to ascertain where we can set up laboratories in Punjab," added Lt Gen Afzal.
He stated that Gujranwala or Gujrat were some of the potential sites for these testing labs.
Lt Gen Afzal also said that that he was informed that the country was facing a severe shortage of laboratory technicians. He said that in this regard, NDMA will put out an advertisement on Monday to recruit laboratory technicians from across the country. "Chosen candidates will be recruited under Grade-14 for a contract of about 4 to 6 months," he concluded.