ISLAMABAD: With a sharp increase in new coronavirus cases reported in the past 24 hours, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday ordered that personal protective equipment (PPE) be provided to health professionals because they are soldiers front line in the fight against the deadly virus.
He also asked the authorities concerned to ensure that the lower class benefits from the recently announced tax breaks for the construction sector, which has received industry status.
The Prime Minister issued the directives while he chaired a meeting on the situation of Covid-19. Attended by Federal Ministers Asad Umar, Khusro Bakhtiar and Hammad Azhar, Prime Minister’s Special Assistants, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Dr Zafar Mirza and Dr Moeed Yusuf and President of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal.
Dr Mirza and Lt Gen Afzal informed the meeting that there were 3,300 ventilators in 137 hospitals across the country and that a direct link had been established with the hospitals to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). In addition, 49,500 test kits have been supplied to the provinces and more will be supplied in the coming days.
The meeting reported that 3,300 ventilators were available in 137 hospitals and 49,500 test kits were provided to the provinces.
The meeting was informed that sufficient PPE and masks were available in the country, but efforts were being made to install more fans.
At another meeting, Special Assistant Usman Dar informed the Prime Minister that a decision had been made to bring the Tiger Force live update to the public. The meeting was informed that people could check the update live at http://crt.covid.gov.pk and more than 739,000 people registered as members of the force.
Meanwhile, at a press conference, Dr. Zafar Mirza said that up to 500,000 N95 masks had been supplied to the provinces and said the number was greater than their needs. We estimate that 1,162 PPE was required in Baluchistan, but we supplied 5,600 PPE to the province. However, we are still receiving complaints that the number of PPE supplied to the provinces is insufficient. Unfortunately, PPE is used by people who don’t need it, he said.
PM’s assistant said that a directive would be announced on April 8 for the use of PPE, adding that only health professionals working in isolation rooms should wear N95 masks, while health workers should wear surgical masks even in isolation rooms.
If the irrational use of PPE continues, we will never be able to have a sufficient stock of equipment. In addition, as new ventilators are imported and manufactured in Pakistan, an expert committee has been formed to review the effectiveness of the ventilators and diagnostic kits, he said.
Dr. Mirza said that 397 cases of Covid-19 have been reported in Pakistan in the past 24 hours. However, he said the death rate in Pakistan was much lower at 1.53% compared to the global rate of 5.45%.
Earlier, informing a parliamentary committee, the chairman of NDMA said that 500 fans would arrive in Pakistan on April 9 and that arrangements were being made to import an additional 2,000 fans. He said 29,000 test kits had been provided to provinces and 137 hospitals across the country were dedicated to Covid-19 patients. He said that up to 35,000 tests have been carried out across the country.
There are reports that 3,662 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Pakistan: 1,816 in Punjab, 932 in Sindh, 405 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 210 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 202 in Balochistan, 82 in Islamabad and 15 in Azad Kashmir. Up to 52 deaths have been reported and 257 patients have recovered.
Meanwhile, a Pakistani Air Force C-130 aircraft transferred 5.5 tonnes of medical equipment and PPE to Quetta on Monday.
Posted in Dawn, April 7, 2020
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