ISLAMABAD: With 1,361 new Covid-19 cases and 64 deaths reported in 24 hours, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan on Thursday said that Pakistan had taken the pandemic as an opportunity to accelerate efforts aimed at strengthening the health system.

In the meantime, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) would now be able to engage in multidisciplinary activities regarding drugs, as the only Covid-19 vaccine tested in Pakistan, CanSino, has been officially registered in China.

According to data of the National Command and Operation Centre, 230 patients were on ventilators on Thursday across the country. And most deaths, 39, were reported from Punjab, followed by 14 from Sindh.

Eight of the deaths were reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and three from Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The total number of deaths reported so far across the country, therefore, reached 12,772.

The total number of active cases, which had surpassed the figure of 50,000 in December, has decreased to 23,281. Moreover, 539,888 people have recovered from the disease.

Speaking at an event held at the World Health Organisation’s Country Office, Dr Faisal Sultan said the government wanted to turn the pandemic into an opportunity.

At the function, 37 ambulances, 125 motorbikes and 12 double-cabin vehicles were handed over by WHO representative Dr Palitha Mahipala to the prime minister’s special assistant.

The event was informed that so far WHO had provided 34 Polymerase Chain Reaction machines along with supplies, over 50,000 rapid antigen test kits, 39,000 personal protective equipment kits and PPE supplies worth of Rs320 million and many other equipment to the authorities.

“The government has been systematically steering progress on all strategic pillars of [Covid-19] Pakistan Prepare­dness and Response Plan [PPRP], which includes coordination, surveillance, points of entry, laboratory, infection prevention and control, case management, risk communication and community engagement and essential health services,” said Dr Sultan.

“The government is working with trusted partners like WHO, and has been fortunate in mitigating the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in both its first and second wave. We acknowledge the comprehensive and continuous technical and operational support extended by WHO, for holistically responding to the Covid-19 pandemic since January 11, 2020, when the first communication on an outbreak in Wuhan, China, was made,” he said.

Drap’s Chief Executive Officer Dr Asim Rauf told Dawn on Thursday that CanSino, which was tested on thousands of Pakistanis, had been approved in China for use.

“The fact that the vaccine that was tested and approved in Pakistan has now been approved abroad shows that Drap’s performance was up to the mark,” he added.

Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2021

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