• 100,000 overseas Pakistanis seek early arrangements for return
• Number of daily tests surges to 9,164
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan witnessed record number of deaths from the coronavirus with nearly half of them being reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa alone, as the tally of countrywide confirmed cases surged past 18,700 on Saturday.
Almost half of the 1,297 new cases were reported from Sindh, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza announced during an afternoon press briefing amid the controversy over fewer number of daily tests being conducted in Punjab for the past several days.
According to the Ministry of National Health Services website, Punjab conducted 16,156 tests while Sindh conducted 22,179 tests in the last one week.
After a gap of few days, Punjab finally increased the number of tests, taking the countrywide tally of daily tests to 9,164.
The PM’s aide told the media that a record number of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths, i.e. 1,297 and 32, respectively, were reported during the past 24 hours (till 12 midnight on May 1, 2020).
“Nearly 50 per cent of these patients were reported from the province of Sindh,” Dr Mirza said.
About the casualties, he said 47pc of the deaths were reported from KP, 28pc from Punjab, 19pc from Sindh and 6pc from Balochistan.
He said it must be noted that out of those 32 deaths, 31 occurred at hospitals and one at a home. “Fourteen patients were on ventilators and 17 were in intensive care units of hospitals,” he explained.
Moreover, 4,715 patients had fully recovered from the disease, he said, adding that the Covid-19 situation with the blessing of God was still better than the estimated figures.
Meanwhile, more than 100,000 overseas Pakistanis in 88 countries have registered themselves with the embassies seeking early arrangements for their return.
Special Assistant to PM on National Security Division Dr Moeed Yusuf told the media that there were over 100,000 stranded Pakistanis in 88 countries and efforts were being made to bring them back at the earliest.
“However, 90pc stranded Pakistanis are in Gulf states such as 69,695 in the United Arab Emirates, 15,594 in Saudi Arabia, 5,500 in Qatar and others are in different countries. Those who have not registered themselves with Pakistani embassies, I suggest them to get themselves registered as embassies have been preparing priority list of those who should be sent at the earliest,” he said.
Dr Yusuf reiterated that once the overseas Pakistanis were brought back, they would have to stay in quarantine for 48 hours after which they would be tested for Covid-19.
“As result of the test can take up to 30 hours, it will be decided only after that if they [passengers] have to stay at quarantine centre more or can join their families. Everyone will have to stay in the quarantine as we cannot afford to let the disease spread.
“Another concern is that the positive cases, in flight arrived during last over one week, were more than our expectations so passengers are being kept at quarantine centres for more time. Currently, it is not possible to bring more than 7,500 passengers per week but in coming weeks we may increase their number up to 15,000 a week,” he said.
The PM’s aide made it clear that the government could not guarantee the departure of flights on time, as flight operations were suspended across the world. However, he added, the government wanted to bring passengers through Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), because other airlines were demanding up to six times higher fares.
“As we have received complaints that a number of airlines have been issuing tickets for arrival in Pakistan, we suggest that overseas Pakistanis should visit the government website www.covid.gov.pk for the flight information. Moreover, Prime Minister has directed us to consult with the provinces to do arrangements for bringing up to 15,000 passengers every week but it may take some time,” Dr Yusuf said.
Daily tests record
As Punjab increased the number of daily tests after a gap of few days in line with the recent disclosure of PM’s aide on health, the overall number of tests in a single day across the country jumped to record 9,164.
According to the Ministry of National Health Services, Punjab conducted more tests than Sindh. The official website (www.covid.gov.pk) mentioned that Punjab and Sindh conducted 1,755 and 2,599 tests on April 25, 1,500 and 3,035 on 26th, 1,795 and 2733 on 27th, 2,390 and 4112 on 28th, 2,295 and 3,729 on 29th, 2,737 and 2,587 on April 30 and 3,684 and 3,384 on May 1, respectively.
Overall Punjab conducted 16,156 tests while Sindh conducted 22,179 tests during the past week, according to the ministry’s figures.
Last week Pakistan Peoples Party central information secretary Nafisa Shah, whose party rules in Sindh, had alleged that the controlled number of daily tests by Punjab was intended to ‘artificially flatten the curve’, giving a false sense of security to the people.
Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2020