GILGIT: Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman has said that the number of Covid-19 patients is decreasing in the region.

In a statement issued here on Thursday, he said that recovery of patients of fast following government’s steps to contain the pandemic. He also appreciated religious scholars and civil society members for their help in that regard.

The chief minister said that of the 1,400 suspected patients, 213 tested positive for Covid-19. He said that 70 patients had recovered and 140 were under-treatment.

He said the testing capacity was increased from 250 to 300 tests per day. He thanked army for establishing coronavirus testing laboratory in Skardu.

The chief minister said that outpatient departments of the hospitals were functional across the region to ensure treatment of patients of other diseases. He said that personal protective equipments were required in Gilgit-Baltistan to protect doctors, paramedics and nurses working in the hospitals and quarantine centres.

He demanded of the federal government to provide PPEs to Gilgit-Baltistan to ensure safety of medical staff.

Mr Rehman said that members of Tableeghi Jamaat from the region living in other parts of the country, after conducting coronavirus tests, required obtaining no objection certificate from the respective provinces to get back to Gilgit-Baltistan.

He said that distribution of ration among deserving families in the region was started.

The chief minister said that flights between Islamabad to Gilgit and Skardu should be continued, He said that passengers were screened at Gilgit and Skardu airports.

Meanwhile, the government has extended lockdown in the region till April 21.

Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, Law Minister Aurangzeb Khan and Adviser to Chief Minister Shams Mir had announced complete lockdown from 11am to 3pm on Thursday and Friday.

They said that nobody would be allowed to come out from home during the lockdown. They said that strict action would be taken against the violators.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2020