PESHAWAR: Buses are parked at Chamkani depot after the BRT service was temporarily closed on Sunday because of a surge in Covid-19 cases here.—Shahbaz Butt / White Star
PESHAWAR: Buses are parked at Chamkani depot after the BRT service was temporarily closed on Sunday because of a surge in Covid-19 cases here.—Shahbaz Butt / White Star

• 118 die of virus, 5,611 more infected • 1m doses reach Pakistan • Expert warns country entering dangerous phase

ISLAMABAD: With the number of Covid-19 cases hovering over 5,000 for more than a week, all provinces as well as Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) have sought services of the armed forces to get the standard operating procedures (SOPs) enforced.

Meanwhile, according to the projected model of the US-based institute, the number of deaths, that has crossed 17,000, would surpass 28,000 by August 1 this year.

On the other hand, one million more doses of Covid-19 vaccine reached Pakistan from China on Sunday.

According to data of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), 118 deaths and 5,611 cases were reported in a single day. As of April 25, the number of casualties stood at 17,117 while active cases were recorded at 88,698.

Overall 531 ventilators were in use with over 80 per cent occupied in Gujranwala, Multan and Lahore. As many as 5,791 patients were admitted to hospitals across the country.

After the four provinces and AJK, Gilgit-Baltistan and Islamabad sought the army’s assistance in implementing health guidelines, the interior ministry issued a notification, allowing them to avail services of the forces.

The announcement came from Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed through a video statement, in which he said the federating units could take the services of the Pakistan Army as per their requirements.

The minister said Sindh’s request was not received, but later the provincial government also wrote a letter, requesting assistance from the armed forces.

“This is a big decision as the neighbouring country, India, has been reporting 350,000 cases per day. Pakistan Army has always stood by people in the wake of floods, earthquakes and other natural calamities. Therefore, it was decided during the meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) to seek army’s help in getting the SOPs enforced,” he said.

According to the interior ministry’s notification, the federal government has conferred powers under Article 245 of the Constitution and authorised provinces to deploy sufficient troops with effect from April 25.

The Gilgit-Baltistan Home Department also notified the deployment of the army and Rangers in cities having a positivity rate of more than 5pc. It also banned dining in restaurants and closed all parks in the region.

On April 23, Prime Minister Imran Khan had said he had asked the army to assist the police and law enforcement agencies in enforcing SOPs, warning that Pakistan might soon face a situation similar to India’s if the current trend continued.

Meanwhile, after 500,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine arrived in Islamabad on Saturday, another one million reached Pakistan from China on Sunday.

Covid-19 fatalities

According to a projected model of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which is part of the University of Washington, death toll in Pakistan may reach 28,549 by August 1 if the current trend persisted.

The graph released by the institute has projected the number of casualties at 22,000 by the end of May, 26,000 in June and around 28,000 by the end of July.

On the other hand, public health expert Dr Ziauddin Islam told Dawn that Pakistan was entering a dangerous phase of the pandemic.

“There is a need to work on war footing as we are faced with triple burdens. Our healthcare workers have become fatigued, hospital and gas supplies were depleting and the nation is facing financial issues,” he said.

“We need to know that if any country in the region controls the pandemic, it [country] will start growing rapidly. China’s GDP has started growing at 23pc and if we control Covid-19, Pakistan can beat India,” Dr Islam said.

“We need maximum impact from vaccination to reduce cases, hospitalisation and deaths and also reduce the risk of emergence of more transmissible and deadly variants. A single well-targeted vaccination can save 10 times more lives and prevent 100 times more cases than vaccinating a low-risk person in a low-risk community,” he added.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2021

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