Govt decides to enhance Covid-19 testing capacity

Updated April 08, 2020

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Centre to start providing protective gear to hospitals from tomorrow, says Asad Umar. — DawnNewsTV
Centre to start providing protective gear to hospitals from tomorrow, says Asad Umar. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: A day after police crackdown on Quetta doctors protesting against unavailability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the federal Minister for Planning and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has said the Centre will start providing protective gear to hospitals directly.

The supply would start on April 9 as the government considered health profe­ssionals the frontline heroes in the war against Covid-19, the federal minister told a press conference on Tuesday. Spe­c­i­al Assistant to Prime Minister on Hea­lth Dr Zafar Mirza accompanied him.

Mr Umar announced that the government had decided to enhance the coronavirus testing capacity from 6,584 to 25,000 tests a day by the end of April.

The decision was made public after around 600 more cases were reported from across the country, with 73pc confirmed cases being reported from Punjab during the past 24 hours.

While sharing the details of the testing capacity, the minister said initially the country was able to conduct 700 to 800 tests on a daily basis, but later the daily capacity was enhanced to 2,000. “On April 6, as many as 3,000 tests were conducted across the country and it has been decided to enhance the capability to 25,000 by the end of current month,” he explained.

Centre to start providing protective gear to hospitals from tomorrow, says Asad Umar

Mr Umar said there was a growing perception in the masses that Pakistanis would not be infected or killed by the virus, but it was wrong as “currently over 50 persons have died in Pakistan while a large number of people have been infected”.

Some wealthy people might be thinking that they would be able to get the treatment if they contracted virus, but they should be aware that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. “So no one should consider himself safe from the disease and everyone should be aware that precaution is the best weapon against the virus,” the minister said.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza told the media that globally 1.35 million people had been infected with the disease and 75,000 had died.

“However, 275,000 people have recovered from the disease globally. In Pakistan, 577 cases were confirmed during the last 24 hours. It seems a big number but some cases from quarantine centres were included in the database on Tuesday,” he said.

Dr Mirza said that out of 577 cases 425 were reported from Punjab, 85 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 51 from Sindh, 11 from Balochistan, three from AJK and one each was reported from Islamabad and Gilgit-Baltistan.

He said as many as 1,311 patients had been hospitalised and 28 of them put on ventilators.

The PM’s aide said that due to the eff­orts of the National Disaster Manage­ment Authority (NDMA), one million kits would soon be made available.

Giving a country-wise comparison of daily testing capability, Dr Mirza said 163 tests per million population were being conducted in Pakistan. “In India 50 per million population, in Iran 964, in the United States 4,264, in South Korea 8,019 tests per million population were being done,” he said.

So far, 39,000 tests had been condu­cted in Pakistan while the current daily testing capacity was 6,584 tests, he added.

As per reports, overall 4,006 cases have been confirmed across the country and 55 patients have died so far. Of them, 2,004 cases were reported from Punjab, 986 from Sindh, 500 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 211 from Gilgit-Baltistan, 204 from Balochistan, 83 from Islamabad and 18 from Azad Jammu and Kashmir. In all, 429 patients have recovered from the disease.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2020