ISLAMABAD: As the country registered thousands of new Covid-19 patients and witnessed many deaths from the virus on Thursday, the government expressed “satisfaction” over the situation in hospitals, saying it has no immediate plan to go for a stricter lockdown.
Talking to Dawn after attending a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan to review the situation in the country in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and locust attack, Information Minister Shibli Faraz said that though there were reports from some big metropolitan cities about load on certain hospitals due to an increase in the number of Covid-19 patients, the situation and conditions in hospitals overall were “satisfactory”.
He said the participants and the prime minister were updated on the facts and figures of coronavirus patients and the state of preparedness and position in the country’s hospitals. In response to a question regarding reports in the media about increased pressure on hospitals, the minister explained that the load on few hospitals was because of the general trend in the public to go to one or two main and famous hospitals of the city and some of these hospitals might have 60 per cent occupancy now.
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Mr Faraz said the meeting was informed that presently there were 404 critical patients in the country out of which 161 were on ventilators which meant they still had a large number of ventilators available for patients and there was no need to be panicked in this regard as “we are comfortably placed and well-equipped”.
The minister said the number of Covid-19 patients was still less than what they had previously estimated. Responding to a question, he expressed his concern over reports of violations of SOPs (standard operating procedures) by the public, but said there was no decision to impose a “strict lockdown” in the country.
Mr Faraz said there was no confusion among the government ranks or in the mind of the prime minister about the need for continuing economic activities in the country. He said the lockdown was not sustainable in a country with more than 150 million poor population.
“The situation is tricky. We are very closely monitoring facts and figures which will basically become our guide,” he said.
Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza told Dawn that the next meeting of the National Coordination Committee on Covid-19 would be held on Monday.
Mr Faraz said the prime minister was given a thorough presentation on the situation due to locust attack in various parts of the country by officials of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the departments concerned. He said the meeting was informed that presently they had six aircraft which could be used for spray, whereas three other aircraft would also become operational over the next week.
Moreover, he said, the government had decided to purchase six new aircraft for which advertisements would be placed in newspapers in the next couple of days. In this way, he said, soon they would have a fleet of 15 aircraft ready for spray in the affected areas.
Mr Faraz said the meeting was informed that they could have a worse situation as they were expecting more swarms from Africa and Iran in the coming days. He said they had sufficient stock of the medicine used in spray. He said locusts were present mostly in Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur and some adjacent areas.
Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2020