ISLAMABAD: With the coronavirus situation worsening day by day, Pakistan conducted the highest number of 20,167 Covid-19 tests in a day as the authorities launched an operation against violators of SOPs (standard operating procedures) in various parts of the country on Thursday.
According to the data released by the National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) on Thursday, Pakistan conducted 20,167 coronavirus tests on June 3, the highest-ever number in a single day. A total of over 610,000 Covid-19 tests have so far been conducted in the country.
Pakistan, which has already surpassed China in terms of the number of Covid-19 affected persons, witnessed nearly 2,900 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total tally to 86,139.
As many as 64 people lost their lives due to the pandemic in the last 24 hours, taking the death toll to 1,793.
Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar had last month expressed the view that the capacity of 30,000 tests per day would be sufficient for Pakistan to control the spread of the deadly virus.
PM’s aide acknowledges number of per day cases rapidly increased in last few days
“Currently, we are in a position to hold over 25,000 tests per day and with every passing day our capacity to conduct tests is increasing,” Mr Umar had stated, expressing the hope that they would be able to hold 30,000 tests per day by the start of June. He was of the view that 30,000 daily tests would be a sizeable number to ascertain the pace of spread and formulate future strategy accordingly.
When contacted, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Zafar Mirza acknowledged that the number of per day cases had rapidly increased during the last few days.
“However, it is also a fact that Pakistan is a large country with a huge population. We are the sixth most populous country with 25 per cent population is under absolute poverty. Therefore, human interaction and proximity of living together are also very high,” the SAPM explained while highlighting the cause of the sudden rise in Covid-19 cases. He gave the example of Brazil and Mexico where, according to him, the conditions are the same as in Pakistan.
Dr Mirza expressed the hope that considering the trends in other countries, Pakistan’s graph would also straighten in the coming weeks or by the end of the current month. “It is observed that after such spikes, the number of daily cases starts reducing,” he said.
The authorities started taking action against those violating the SOPs at public places in various parts of the country on the recommendations of the NCOC.
On Thursday, the relevant authorities imposed 727 lockdowns across the country.
According to the data released by the NCOC, 115 people were fined and 83 shops and 22 industrial units were sealed in Islamabad over violations of SOPs. Besides, 42 public transporters were fined for violating the SOPs.
In Gilgit-Baltistan, it says, 907 people were fined, 440 shops sealed and action was taken against 297 transporters. Moreover, 13 industrial units and four areas were sealed under the policy of ‘smart lockdown’.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as many as 9,449 persons were checked, of which 3,553 were fined. As many as 525 markets/shops, 37 industrial unites and 16 transport terminals were sealed in the province. Moreover, 82 public transport vehicles were fined for the SOPs violations.
The handout issued by the NCOC, which holds daily meetings to review the situation under the minister for planning, says that telemedicine service is also becoming popular among the masses and 3,660 doctors have already signed up. So far, it says, 1,936 patients have consulted doctors.
The NCOC team comprising specialists/management experts will visit various areas of the country to assist local administrations in assessment or needs or requirement. Dr Faisal Sultan, the focal person for the prime minister on Covid-19, will lead the teams.
The focus of the NCOC session with the provinces on Thursday was on “SOPs, compliance, strict administrative actions being implemented and enforcement of various strands of track, trace and quarantine (TTQ) strategy”.
According to the Prime Minister Office, Mr Umar said the heart of the strategy to contain the risk of the contagion spreading was to ensure “SOPs compliance and enforcement of quarantine measures”.
Chief secretaries of provinces and of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir informed the NCOC that strict administrative action had been initiated against those violating SOPs and social distancing in public places, markets, public transport and industrial sectors.
Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2020