ISLAMABAD: With a sharp spike in cases of novel coronavirus reported in the past 24 hours, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday directed that personal protective equipment (PPE) be provided to health professionals as they are frontline soldiers in the fight against the deadly virus.
He also directed the authorities concerned to ensure that the lower class get benefit of the recently announced major tax relief for the construction sector which has been given the status of industry.
The prime minister issued the directives while presiding over a meeting on the Covid-19 situation. It was attended by federal ministers Asad Umar, Khusro Bakhtiar and Hammad Azhar, PM’s special assistants Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Dr Zafar Mirza and Dr Moeed Yusuf and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) chairman Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal.
Dr Mirza and Lt Gen Afzal informed the meeting that there were 3,300 ventilators in 137 hospitals across the country and a direct link had been established with hospitals to provide personal protective equipment (PPE). Moreover, 49,500 testing kits were provided to the provinces and more kits would be provided in the next few days.
Meeting told 3,300 ventilators available in 137 hospitals, 49,500 testing kits provided to provinces
The meeting was informed that sufficient PPE and masks were available in the country, but efforts were being made to arrange more ventilators.
At another meeting, special assistant Usman Dar informed the prime minister that a decision had been made to bring live update of the Tiger Force into the knowledge of the public. The meeting was told that people would be able to check live update at http://crt.covid.gov.pk and over 739,000 persons had got themselves registered as members of the force.
Meanwhile, speaking at a news conference, Dr Zafar Mirza said that as many as 500,000 N95 masks had been provided to the provinces and claimed that the number was more than their requirements. “As per our estimates there was requirement of 1,162 PPEs in Balochistan, but we provided 5,600 PPEs to the province. However, we are still getting complaints that the number of PPEs, provided to the provinces, is not sufficient. Unfortunately, PPEs are being used by those persons who don’t need them,” he claimed.
The PM’s assistant said a guideline would be announced on April 8 for use of PPE, adding that only health professionals working in isolation wards should wear N95 masks, while sanitary staff should wear surgical masks even in isolation wards.
“If irrational use of PPE continues, we will never be able to have ample stock of the equipment. Moreover, as new ventilators are being imported and manufactured in Pakistan, a committee of experts has been constituted to look into the efficacy of ventilators and diagnostic kits,” he said.
Dr Mirza said that 397 Covid-19 cases were reported in Pakistan during the last 24 hours. However, he said the mortality rate in Pakistan was much lower i.e. 1.53 per cent as compared to the global rate of 5.45pc.
Earlier, briefing a parliamentary committee, the NDMA chairman said that 500 ventilators would reach Pakistan on April 9 and arrangements were being made to import 2,000 more ventilators. He said 29,000 testing kits had been provided to the provinces and 137 hospitals across the country were dedicated for the Covid-19 patients. He said that as many as 35,000 tests had been conducted across the country.
According to reports, 3,662 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in Pakistan — 1,816 in Punjab, 932 in Sindh, 405 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 210 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 202 in Balochistan, 82 in Islamabad and 15 in Azad Kashmir. As many as 52 deaths have been reported and 257 patients recovered.
Meanwhile, a C-130 aircraft of the Pakistan Air Force on Monday shifted 5.5 tonnes of medical and PPE to Quetta.
Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2020