ISLAMABAD: Seeing people ignoring the standard operating procedures (SOPs), Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday warned that the government would get tough on the violators and seal all those premises, which were contribution to the spread of the coronavirus disease.
“So far, we had not been much strict, but now will show inflexibility. We will take action through administration and the violators will have to face closure,” he warned in his televised address to the nation after chairing a high-level meeting to discuss the COVID-19 situation as the country’s tally of confirmed cases crossed 119,000 with 2,356 deaths earlier in the day.
Imran said he would personally monitor the implementation of SOPs and receive data from across the country. He said the district administrations as well as the Corona Relief Tiger Force would observe and report the status of SOPs’ implementation by shops, shopping malls, mosques, kutcheries (courts) and public transport.
The prime minister said all the workplaces or localities would be closed down if they were found spreading the deadly virus risking the people’s lives. The announcement came after a sharp surge in the country’s tally of the confirmed cases following the easing of lockdown by the government ahead of Eidul Fitr to revive the economic activity subject to the some precautions by the people as well as the traders.
The prime minister said the government would announce a special package for the healthcare workers keeping in view the immense stress they were undergoing in the prevailing situation.
He said though the number of deaths had increased, the score was luckily lower than the apprehensions and the majority of those who died either had some preconditions or were old aged.
He said the government would deploy data managers at the hospitals to report the status of facilities there to help it make the decisions accordingly. He said having known the nature of the virus, he had foretold the increase of confirmed cases and deaths. “We knew it will happen and always said that deaths will increase with the spread of virus. We also knew with the easing of lockdown, the infections will grow,” the prime minister remarked.
He said from the opposition leaders’ statements, he got impression that they wanted more deaths to increase difficulties for the government and destabilize the economy.
Referring to the PML-N chief Shahbaz Sharif without naming him, the prime minister said the opposition desired to conceal his corruption by pressuring the government in the prevailing situation as they had also done in the case of Kashmir issue.
Imran Khan spoke high of his team for making right analyses and projections after consulting with the provinces and medical experts, without succumbing to any pressure.
He said consequent to the government’s timely actions, including the distribution of around Rs120 billion among 12 million families, Pakistan had averted a tough situation contrary to other countries, particularly India.
He said poor people became the foremost casualty of the lockdown, as the government had to simultaneously protect the people from the virus and poverty.
Apprising the nation of the consequences of strict lockdown in India, the prime minister quoted a survey that 84 percent of Indian households faced economic loss, 34pc would be unable to survive for more than a week without assistance and around 30 million youth had lost jobs.
“We would also have faced similar circumstances. But we survived, because we had not imposed a strict lockdown, rather we opened the construction industry and gave away Rs 120 billion to the 12 million people,” he stated.
He said despite the strict lockdown, the coronavirus cases were fast increasing in India and their hospitals were also under immense pressure. Reiterating his call for adhering to the precautions, the prime minister said only the nations, which would follow the guidelines, could avert tough times.
Imran Khan said from the very first day, he had been advocating for a smart lockdown as only and effective solution, which was also being acknowledged by the world. He said unfortunately, the country’s elite had ignored the health sector during the last 60 years.
He said the implementation of SOPs was essential to save the lives of particularly the vulnerable groups like the patients of the blood pressure, diabetes or the old aged people.
Highlighting the government’s measures in anti-COVID operations, the prime minister said the number of testing laboratories had been increased from two to 107, testing capacity increased up to 1.2 million a month, and ventilators from 2,800 to 4,800 while 1,400 more were in pipeline.
Moreover, he said, the number of ICU (intensive care unit) beds had been increased from 600 to 1300 and the government would add 1,000 oxygen beds by June and as many a month later.
The prime minister said it was unfortunate to see the people ignoring the SOPs and believing in conspiracy theories regarding the pandemic, which would do nothing but spread the infections.
Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases in Pakistan rose to 125,470 and death toll to 2,459 on Thursday.
Out of 125,470 confirmed cases, Sindh reported 46,828 cases, Punjab 47,382, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 15,787, Balochistan 7,673, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) 6,236, Gilgit-Baltistan 1,030 and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) 534. Of 2,459 deaths, Punjab reported 890 deaths, Sindh 776, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 632, Balochistan 75, Islamabad Capital Territory 62, Gilgit-Baltistan 15, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) 9.
Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases in the Punjab reached 47,382 after registration of 2,003 new cases in the last 24 hours. According to a spokesperson for the Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department on Thursday, 34 more people lost their lives, while the total number of deaths reached 890.
The Health Department confirmed that 1168 new cases were registered in Lahore, 11 in Nankana Sahib district, nine in Kasur, 27 in Sheikhupura, 81 in Rawalpindi, five in Jhelum, three in Attock, 36 in Gujranwala, 21 in Sialkot, two in Narowal, 13 in Gujrat, 19 in Hafizabad, five in Mandi Bahauddin, 169 in Multan, 12 in Vehari, 121 in Faisalabad, 54 in Chiniot, 23 in Toba Tek Singh, two in Jhang, 10 in Rahim Yar Khan, 35 in Sargodha, two in Mianwali, two in Khushab, five in Bhakkar, two in Bahawalnagar, 50 in Bahawalpur, three in Lodharan, 10 in Dera Ghazi Khan, 39 in Muzaffargarh, one in Rajanpur, 44 in Layyah, seven in Sahiwal, and four new case of COVID-19 were reported in Pakpattan district during 24 hours.
The Punjab Health Department has conducted 317,893 tests for COVID-19 so far, while 9,005 confirmed cases were recovered in the province.
The Punjab Health Department has appealed to people to act on the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for their protection and cover their faces with masks.
Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said coronavirus had hit new highs on Thursday when 3,038 new cases were detected while 38 more patients lost their lives lifting the deaths to 776.
In a statement issued from the CM House, he said enhancing the capacity of the labs 10,088 tests were conducted against which 3,038 new cases were detected that constituted 30 percent result.
“This is the highest number of tests conducted so far and the result is itself the highest since February 26 when the first case was diagnosed as positive,” he said and added that the situation was going from bad to worse and every one of us has to understand the severity of the situation.
Syed Murad Ali Shah said that so far 2,56,705 tests had been conducted which produced 46828 cases that constituted an overall 18 percent positive result.
He said that 38 patients died overnight and now the number of patients died due to infection has reached to 776 that constituted 1.6 percent of the total patients.
The CM said that at present 24,005 patients were under treatment, of them 22,324 at different hospitals, 60 at the isolation centers and 1621 at different hospitals.
He added that out of 24005 patients, 636 were in critical condition whereas 79 patients have been shifted on ventilators.
Quoting the figures, Syed Murad Ali Shah said that out of 3,038 new cases, Karachi had produced the highest number of 2145 cases, including 650 in South, 569 East, 307 Central, 284 Malir, 201 Korangi and 134 West.
He said that 95 cases, Hyderabad 88, Larkana 77, Ghotki 67, Nawabshah 26, Shikarpur and Jacobabad have 23 each, Jamshoro and Khairpur 22 each, Dadu 19, Badin 13, Sujawal 11, Matiari 10, Thatta eight, Mirpurkhas and Naushehrofeoze have seven each, Tando Mohammad Khan five, Tando Allahyar three and Kambar-Shahdadkot one case.
Syed Murad Ali Shah said that the experts, keeping in view the present spike in the cases, have projected to exceed 300,000 cases and 5000 deaths by June 30, if SOPs were not followed in true letter and spirit.
He urged people of Sindh to be careful and save themselves and others from being infected. In Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), cases are surging rapidly as 46 more cases surfaced on Thursday taking the tally to 534 in the region of approximately 4 million people and more than half of the patients are in its capital city Muzaffarabad having less than 0.4 million population.
The government has imposed a complete lock down for a week by Thursday in its capital city and surrounding areas in the wake of rapid spread of the virus during which public transport and businesses except grocery items will remain suspended and the movement of the people will be restricted.
According to a press release of the health department, 18 more patients have recovered and one death was recorded in Muzaffarabad within 24 hours taking the total toll to 10, which are 2.4 % of the total affected people.
Of the new cases, 30 surfaced in Muzaffarabad, 5 in Rawalakot, 6 in Mirpur, 4 in Bhimber and one in Bagh district, the press release elaborates the details adding 369 new tests were conducted during last 24 hours taking the total number of tests to 9942 out of which results of 9889 were received.
Meanwhile, Parliamentary Secretary for Health Services Dr Nousheen Hamid Thursday said Pakistan was conducting 27,000 coronavirus tests every day while its 107 laboratories had the capacity to undertake 46,000 tests per day.
Speaking in the National Assembly, she said the government would enhance the testing capacity to 50,000 tests as recommended by World Health Organization. She said the prime minister was leading from the front as he was regularly chairing meetings of National Coordination Committee comprising chief ministers of all provinces.
She said a national action plan had been developed in consultation with the provinces to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. She said the federal government was ensuring provision of personal protective equipment and Pakistan was in a position to manufacture N95 masks.
Pakistan was even giving personal protective equipment to other countries, she said adding National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was tasked to provide diagnostic kits and set up laboratories.
When coronavirus struck Pakistan, it had four laboratories to conduct coronavirus tests but now 107 laboratories could undertake the tests, she added. The secretary said China had donated 100 ventilators to Pakistan while NDMA had placed an order for purchase of 1473 ICU ventilators. 341 of these ventilators had been delivered while 245 will be received by June 15. When coronavirus attack began, Pakistan had only 2200 ventilators in its health system.
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