Virus cases edge up to 15,000 mark

-Punjab, Sindh, KP combined report most single day fatalities 3,300 successfully treated and discharged from hospitals

By Ajmal Khan Yousafzai

ISLAMABAD: With 751 new coronavirus cases reported in the last 24 hours in Pakistan, the number of total confirmed cases in the country has soared to 14,079, media reported on Tuesday.
According to National command and Operation Centre, 10,545 people are still under treatment from which 111 are said to be critical, while 3,233 patients have recovered so far.
With 20 more deaths in last 24 hours, the number of total coronavirus fatalities has crossed 300 mark and now stands at 301.
The confirmed cases include Punjab 5730, Sindh 5291, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 2160, Balochistan 915, Islamabad Capital Territory 297, Gilgit-Baltistan 330, and Azad Kashmir 65.
The country has conducted 157223 tests so far to detect the virus.
Meanwhile, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail has tested positive for coronavirus and he went into self-isolation. Governor Imran Ismail had confirmed on Twitter that he has been tested positive for COVID-19 and said that he will fight it out. While talking to media, Imran Ismail detailed that his coronavirus test came out positive, however, he is not feeling symptoms of the virus so far.
“Yesterday, my mother came here and we were together during Iftar. Later, I felt fever and thought to undergo coronavirus test. I should have kept myself under isolation since yesterday’s night.”
Punjab has reported 204 new cases of the novel coronavirus, taking the provincial tally to 5,730, according to the Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department. A spokesperson for the department said 95 people have so far died from the virus while 1,380 people have recovered. He said 22 of the coronavirus patients are in critical condition. The spokesperson said as many as 75,229 tests have been conducted across the province thus far.
Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had said the province’s coronavirus testing capacity has increased to 5,000 tests per day but it would be further ramped up to 10,000 tests a day soon. Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza on Tuesday announced that martyr status would be accorded to those health professionals who lost their lives in fight against COVID-19, newsmen reported. Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Dr Zafar Mirza said that the families of the deceased health professionals will be given a relief package at par with the martyrs of the armed forces. He maintained that 100 per cent pension, government house and a compensation cheque up to Rs10,000,000 will be given to the families.
On the occasion, he said that protection of lives of health professionals is the top priority of the government. The special assistant said that government has taken several steps to ensure provision of personal protection equipment kits to doctors and health workers besides their training. Zafar Mirza said a comprehensive strategy has been planned for hospitals to provide treatment to corona patients.
Earlier on April 10, Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that the entire nation stood with health workers in the fight against COVID-19. Talking to the medics during his visit to Hayatabad Medical Complex in Peshawar, the prime minister had said coronavirus cases will increase across the world including Pakistan in the coming days, adding that spike in corona cases will also increase pressure on doctors. He had assured to provide protective equipment to the doctors and paramedical staff to fight the coronavirus challenge.
Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday directed his government to formulate anti-COVID 19 strategies considering the needs of all social segments, particularly the poor, ridding the country of previous tendency of pro-rich policies.
Chairing a meeting to review the situation of COVID-19 pandemic in the country, the prime minister said the government had to maintain a balance between the prevention against coronavirus and sustainability of economic process. The meeting was attended by federal ministers Hamad Azhar, Asad Umar, Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Syed Fakhar Imam, Omar Ayub, special assistants Dr Zafar Mirza and Dr Moeed Yousuf, National Disaster Management Authority Chairman Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal and senior officials.
The SAPM on health apprised the meeting of the prevailing COVID-19 situation, new coronavirus cases, and the ratio of fatality and recovery. The meeting was told that Pakistan’s ratio of new cases and recovery was lesser than that of the world.
Industries Minister Hamad Azhar briefed the meeting about the opening of steel and other industries as had been decided as part of the strategy for the the construction industry. He also apprised the participants about the Rs 75 billion package for the labourers and workers designed in collaboration with the industries ministry and the Ehsaas Programme to target up to six million people.
He said the government would bear the utility bills of small businesses for three months. The NDMA chief briefed the meeting about the availability of testing kits, protection equipment, N95 masks, ventilators and other items required during the anti-COVID operations. The prime minister told the meeting that the government had finalized the policy regarding allowing Tarawih prayer at mosques after consultation with the Ulema, who had also taken the responsibility of its true implementation. He said maintaining the social distancing for protection against the coronavirus was everyone’s responsibility. He instructed the government to formulate any strategy for upcoming days of Holy Month of Ramazan keeping in view the public needs.
Like other parts of the country, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, was also striving to contain further spread of coronavirus in the country. Expressing these views in a private news channel programmes, Minister for Planning and Development, Asad Umer said that despite meager financial and medical resources, the government was making best possible efforts to overcome this global challenge. There was vacuum in the health and education sectors and government was struggling to bridge this gap with better management. The minister said that after the 18th Amendment, the subject of health and education was being handled by the provincial governments.
Commenting on making some changes in 18th and 19th Amendment by PTI government, he said the direction of the previous governments for passing 18th Amendment was correct, but there were some lacuna, which need to be reviewed with consultation of the political parties. About the will of the Prime Minister on resolving the issues of poverty, unemployment and economy, he said Imran Khan had full determination and commitment to streamline the system. Asad Umer said space being observed in the field of health and education would be filled with better strategy and policy. About lack of coordination, he said all the representatives of the provincial governments had been participating in the meetings of NCOC.
About shuffle in the Information Ministry, he said Iman Khan having enlightened vision, had chosen intellectual personalities as Senator Shibli Faraz and Lt Gen (Retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa.
He said old workers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), had welcomed Senator Shibli Faraz for new assignment in the Information Ministry. About Lt Gen (Retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa, he said that the person had a credit to set foundation of the modern Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR). He said Asim Saleem Bajwa was a competent person and well aware about media related work.
The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) Tuesday sought presentation from Managing Director Utility Stores Corporation, MD National Information Technology Board (NITB) and Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar about the food stocks available at Utility stores. The NCOC, which met with Minister for Planning Development Reforms and Special Initiatives Asad Umar mulled over the issues, pertaining to Ehsaas programme, stocks available at Utility stores, it’s outreach to far-flung areas, status of mobile stores and epidemic-curve projections.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Dr Sania Nishtar apprised the forum that the programme had served around 5.9 million families across the country. However, there were issues being faced in the provision of relief due to poor biometric verification of the registered people under the programme.
She said the issue could be resolved if the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) offices were opened for only verifying Ehsaas programme registered recipients of financial relief. She also highlighted that the tax waie-off was being provided to Ehsaas PoS retailers at federal level and provincial governments’ compliance was awaited.
Provincial Chief Secretaries informed the forum that the tax waive-off was approved by their cabinets and would be implemented consequently. Minister for Interior Brig (R) Ejaz Ahmed Shah after detailed discussion agreed to open around 600 NADRA offices and 200 mobile vans only for Ehsaas programme verification.