Expert proposals sought to help fight virus epidemic

-Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman says strain of virus in Pakistan less potent than China

By Uzma Zafar

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza revealed on Monday that the Higher Education Commission (HEC) is inviting university researchers, scientists, technicians manufacturers and other Pakistani experts, based either in the country or abroad, to submit proposals that can assist the government in its fight against the Covid-19 outbreak.
Addressing a press briefing alongside National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) chief Lt Gen Mohammad Afzal and premier’s advisor on national security, Moeed Yusuf, Dr Mirza said HEC had constituted this programme to streamline countless ideas from experts and innovators into a single structured initiative.
He also revealed that the commission will be providing generous funding from Rs5 million up to Rs15 million to prospective researchers if their ideas are accepted.
The advertisement issued by HEC. “The government of Pakistan, with assistance from HEC, will help you in developing your ideas.
And if your idea is practical and effective, we would like nothing more than to implement it,” Zafar said. “If you have any ideas against Covid-19 prevention, its treatment and on the affects that emerge from it, please submit your proposals to HEC. They have issued an advertisement in that regard. The deadline to apply for this initiative is April 3, 2020,” Zafar added.
In its advertisement titled ‘Quick-response Research on Covid-19; Rapid Research and Innovation Proposals’, HEC disclosed it was being assisted by the World Bank in its initiative to invite research proposals on several different themes regarding the treatment and prevention of Covid-19. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf, meanwhile, said it was not true that flights at all airports across the country were being resumed from April 5.
He said when flights do resume on April 5 at a few airports, they will do so slowly and gradually. He also revealed that there were no more Pakistani transit passengers stranded at any airport around the world.
Yusuf also denied Pakistan Railways was resuming its normal schedule from April 1, urging citizens to avoid rumours and only pay attention to official sources. National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt Gen Mohammad Afzal assured the nation that steps were being taken to increase the country’s testing capacity.