The government will distribute the relief money from tomorrow among lower-income people who have been hit by financial crisis due to the ongoing lockdown, Prime Minister Imran Khan told the media on Wednesday.
The premier said that a sum of Rs12,000 will be distributed among 12 million families from 17,000 different points. He insisted that the programme was free of any political influence as the data was collected digitally.
"There is no question of any political affiliation in this fund," he declared, adding that he wanted everyone to take part in the relief programme initiated by the government and register with the Corona Tigers Relief Force. He said that the government "needed your (public's) money and manpower" as it was low on resources and had to cater to a large population.
Dr Sania Nishtar, the head of the Ehsaas Programme, told the media that the National Identity Card numbers being sent to the government through text messages on 8171, had passed through several stages so that the government can be sure that they qualify for the programme.
She explained that only one member of a family will receive a message even if multiple members of the family had sent their NIC numbers. The data, Nishtar said, was being cross-checked with the information in Nadra's database.
She added that those families, whose heads had passed away but their death had not been registered, could call on the 0800-26477 helpline to get assistance.
Prime Minister Imran informed the media that the volunteers of Corona Tigers Relief Force had been instructed to help people who had not been able to send their NIC numbers to register for the emergency cash fund.
The premier also expressed his sorrow over the doctors' protest in Quetta over the lack of facilities being provided to healthcare professionals.
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal also briefed the media on the medical equipment being bought from other countries — mostly China — and how the supplies had been distributed among provinces and federal territories. NDMA has started distributing ventilators, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies to hospitals in different provinces.
He said that the body had delivered medical supplies for 18,000 medical professionals in Punjab, where the calculated demand was for 6,000 people. Similarly in Sindh, supplies for 15,000 medical professionals had been delivered, where the calculated demand was for 9,000 people.
In Balochistan, the calculated demand was for 2,000 medical professionals but supplies for 8,000 people were delivered.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had demanded 900,000 PPEs in written, Lt Gen Afzal told the premier. NDMA had earlier delivered 10,000 PPEs. Other federal territories were also being provided with PPEs and other supplies.
Up to 100,000 additional testing kits will also be flown in soon, he said, adding that as of now 22 testing labs were operating in Pakistan.
Lt Gen Afzal said that normal masks are recommended for the general public, while surgical masks should be worn by anyone working in a hospital. N-95 masks, he said, were recommended for healthcare staff working in intensive care units.
The NDMA chief said that there was a shortage of technicians, but an advertisement had been given out and applications from all over the country were being received.
Prime Minister Imran once again urged the nation to continue practicing social distancing, warning that failure to do so would lead the infection to spread at a faster rate and burden the healthcare system. He repeated that Pakistan cannot afford a complete lockdown, which was imposed in China or European countries and asked people to take precautionary measures to curb the spread of the virus.
"No government can go in streets to tell people to stay indoors, police cannot beat or imprison people for going out. You have to take care of yourselves for your own sake," he said.