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Agencies
May 27, 2020

Caution must to avoid catastrophe: Another lockdown on cards

Top Story

A
Agencies
May 27, 2020

Caution must to avoid catastrophe: Another lockdown on cards

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza on Monday said coronavirus cases and deaths were on the rise in the country and urged citizens to follow the government mandated standard operating procedures (SOPs) against the virus, warning that "strict lockdowns" could be reimposed across the country if the trajectory continued.

Lamenting that the government's instructions and SOPs to control the spread of the virus were not being followed, the prime minister's aide said: "As we promised while easing the lockdown, if this trend continues we may reimpose strict lockdowns after Eid."Noting that there was this perception amongst people that the virus outbreak in the country had ended, Mirza reminded everyone that deaths and cases were rising continuously.

"Unfortunately, there is now this thinking among us that this disease [Covid-19] was only here till Eid and that somehow it'll disappear after Eid. This is a huge misunderstanding. "I want to warn Pakistanis that if you don't take precautionary measures, this crisis could turn into a huge tragedy. "I urge the nation to act with extreme responsibility to contain the spread of the virus. The cases are rising very fast and we need to be careful, more than ever," Dr Mirza said.

Enumerating coronavirus statistics from around the world, the prime minister's aide stated that Covid-19 had now infected more than 5.5 million people globally and killed nearly 350,000. "But the characteristic of this disease is that a huge majority of the patients recover from it — therefore the good news is that millions have also recovered and are now healthy," he said.

He clarified that most of the active cases in the country were mild and those patients were quarantining at home. He requested them to stay at home and recuperate until they are tested negative. "Unfortunately, there are 112 patients are on ventilators right now. These patients are critically ill and are fighting for their lives at this very moment." Mirza said, as he warned that the number of critically ill patients in the country was also rising fast. He said the spread of the virus could only be halted by staying at home as much as possible, practicing social distancing, wearing masks and taking precautionary measures while going out.

Meanwhile, Chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal Tuesday said around 4,200 ventilators were available in public and private sector hospitals and there was no dearth of ventilators to treat COVID-19 patients. Addressing a press conference here, he said orders had already been placed for procurement of additional 1,310 ventilators. He said trained staff was required to operate the ventilators and agreements regarding training of staff, its installation and 1-3 three years maintenance were also ensured with companies to whom the ventilators were being imported.

He said the USA had also offered to donate 200 ventilators to Pakistan and half of them would reach shortly. Out of 100 ventilators, 30 each would be provided to Peshawar and Karachi, 15 to Balochistan, 10 to Faisalabad and 15 to Lahore. Occupancy of ventilators in all cities has remained below 50 per cent so far, he said. He said it was expected that 2,000 more ventilators would be required by June if the situation worsens for which a contingency plan have already been chalked out.

The NDMA Chairman said the Authority had 183 intensive care unit ventilators in its warehouses as well as oxygen, CPAP, and BiPAP ventilators. Refuting a news circulated on the social media about shortage of ICU beds, Muhammad Afzal said there were 10,944 ICU beds available in 365 public sector hospitals and only 2,211 ICUs beds were in use which was 20 per cent below the available capacity while 679 ICU beds were also available in 52 private hospitals, he said.

Similarly, he added, as many as 72,900 beds were available in public sector while around 6000 beds in private sector hospitals. He said any corona patient, who was denied a bed in a hospital from any part of the country could register complaint at telephone number 111-157-157. The Chairman NDMA said Pakistan has achieved self-sufficiency in manufacturing medical equipment to treat COVID-19 patients. However, he appealed the masses to strictly adhere to laid down Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) announced by Ministry of Health to prevent spread of the Coronavirus and to protect themselves and others.

Regarding locust attack in various parts of the country, the chairman said a massive operation was being carried out in Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan, Bahawalpur and Faisalabad divisions, along with Okara, Bhakar, and Layyah districts. He said enough stock of pesticides was also available to check locust attack in the country.

He said China had also provided 1,00,000 liters of Malathion and 75,000 liters Lambda, while Japan would provide 50,000 liters Lambda. The NDMA had also ordered to procure 1,00,000 liters each of these pesticides to undertake spray against locust, he added. He said provinces were provided the pesticides as per their demand.

Muhammad Afzal said NDMA had also arranged nine planes for aerial spray in different parts of the country, including Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Spray kits were also imported to be fixed on army helicopters for carrying aerial spray against locust, he said. He said over 1,500 teams were working to carrying out manual spray in various parts of the country.

He said locust could enter Pakistan from Iran and Muscat in first and second week of the next month and they had already deployed aircraft with sufficient spray equipment and pesticides in Dera Ghazi Khan, Dera Ismail Khan and along the Iran border to kill the insect then and there. Arrangements have also been made to undertake anti-locust spray in deserts of Thar and Cholistan, he said. The chairman said six more aircraft were also being added to the air-fleet on the directives of government.

The army has placed services of 5000 personnel on NDMA disposal to counter locust attack, he added. Regarding preparation for flood, Muhammad Afzal said in winter some areas received 29-33 per cent more snow this year, adding that they had also prepared plans to meet any flood situation in coming days.

Replying to a question, he said all personal protective equipment (PPE) including N-95 masks were being manufacturing in Pakistan and Pakistan Air Force had also provided medical equipment to United States.