ISLAMABAD - The country on Sunday recorded highest number of virus infections as at least 3,039 new cases surfaced during the last twenty-four hours, taking the tally to 69,496.

Some 25,056 cases have so far been detected in Punjab, 27,360 in Sindh, 9,540 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 4,193 in Balochistan, 2,418 in Islamabad, 678 in Gilgit Baltistan, and 251 in Azad Kashmir.  Also, at least 25,271 patients have so far recovered from the virus while the death toll stands at 1,483 with 88 deaths reported during the last twenty four hours. At least 14,972 corona tests were carried out during the last twenty four hours, according to officials.

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Sunday sought to engage market associations for the implementation of COVID -19 guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in letter and spirit. While chairing a meeting at National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umer said that the shopkeepers should strictly implement “no mask, no service,” policy.

He directed the NCOC to concentrate on the plan to ease the lockdown while strictly implementing the Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs). The forum suggested taking strict punitive action on violation of SOPs. It must be noted that NCOC is working to devise a long and short term strategy on COVID-19  titled “Living with the Pandemic”.

Asad Umar directed the pursuing of a vigorous mass awareness campaign to highlight the measures taken by the government to contain COVID-19 and underscore its achievements in this regard. The campaign should focus on ensuring behaviour change of the people regarding COVID-19 while also underlining that the government aimed to safeguard the people from the pandemic.

Expressing satisfaction over the availability of ventilators in countrywide hospitals, Asad Umar directed the concerned to provide latest information about the availability of beds and other related facilities for the information of the infected people.

The forum was told that the Resource Management System (RMS) would be rolled out across country from the 1st of June. Under this system, the hospitals would also share the details of local resources available to them, total admitted patients, denial of admissions, no of beds and ventilators available, as well as other facilities being provided to them.

Dr Zafar Mirza said that his Ministry was planning to mobilise retired doctors of public sector hospitals, young doctors, doctors on house jobs, and final year medical students to cope with the situation. Moreover, new doctors and paramedics would be recruited through walk-in interviews.

The forum was apprised that the provinces had been asked to ensure community mobilisation  and set up call Centres in their respective areas by June 15. The forum was told that Sindh and Balochistan governments were not agreeing on imposing smart lockdown. Instead, they preferred the home quarantine policy. The meeting was attended by Interior Minister Brig (Retd) Syed Ijaz Ahmed Shah,  Minister for National Food Security and Research Fakhar Imam, Minister for Economic Affairs Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Dr Moeed Yousaf and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza.



NDMA plans to dispatch 100 ventilators to provinces


Meanwhile, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) would deliver 100 ventilators among four provinces to cope with increasing number of COVID-19 patients.

An Authority’s spokesman said in a statement that the plan was to dispatch 10 each Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ventilators to all four provinces.

Likewise 10 each Non Invasive BiPAP portable ventilators would also be dispatched to Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan for COVID-19 patients.

NDMA has also arranged the installation and after sale service facilities, training of doctors, paramedics for optimum utilisation of ventilators. He said that Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) of federal capital had already been provided the required number of ventilators.

Addressing a news conference at the NCOC, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza said that 3,039 people have been confirmed as positive for COVID-19 during last twenty- four hours which is highest number of cases of deadly virus surfaced in a single day in Pakistan.

The SAPM informed that over 550,000 corona tests have been conducted so far in the country with 15,000 tests conducted during last 24 hours and out of which 3,039 people have been confirmed as positive. He said that number of tests being conducted had decreased during Eid holidays but this number has started increasing now. “The positivity rate of COVID-19 during the last 24 hours stands at 20 percent which is very high. During last some days, the positivity rate has increased which shows that local transmission has increased and the disease is spreading fast,” he said.

Dr Mirza further told the news conference that as many 42,742 cases have been marked as active cases of the disease in Pakistan. “Out of active case, 4,480 patients of coronavirus are admitted in hospitals and 723 patients are in critical conditions.” He said that out of critical patients, 201 were on ventilators which is the highest number of patients on ventilators up till now.

“The most critical patients need oxygen and not ventilators,” the SAPM clarified and added that most of critical patients are on oxygen. He told media that the country had reported 88 deaths due to infection during last 24 hours which is also maximum number of deaths in a single day in Pakistan.

The SAPM dispelled the impression of any crisis of availability of ICU (intensive care unit) beds, ventilators, and other facilities for corona patients. He also said that the impression was not true that Pakistan’ health care system was touching its limits.

He said that only 28 percent of ventilators, specified for the deadly disease, has so far been engaged for COVID-19 patients. The pressure on big hospitals in big cities increases and media starts projecting that perhaps Pakistan was facing a crisis in this regard, he said.

We were faced with this challenge and to cope with it, Dr Mirza said adding that, NCOC has developed a Resource Management System (RMS) to collect and provide real-time information about healthcare infrastructure in all hospitals throughout Pakistan. “This system will help in decision making and to address unnecessary worries broadcast by media.”

Giving details of the RMS, Chief Executive Officer of National Information Technology Board, Shabahat Ali Shah said over 1500 hospitals across Pakistan have been linked with this system. “We wanted to make a consolidated system at federal level in which all hospitals throughout the country would come in one resource management system to give a unified picture to all health ministries of provinces.” The benefit is that provinces can visualize all their resources including COVID- related beds, ventilators and personal protection equipment (PPE) and other assets in a consolidated system, the CEO said. “We have empowered all hospitals to maintain their data in local system that is synced up with the federal system to avoid any discrepancy.” Shabahat said these hospitals could individually update real time data to provide a unified and consolidated picture of the resources available to treat corona patients and also utilize the same. “We have also developed a mobile application called national emergency response app that will be used by all emergency response providers, in public and private sector, to get access to RMS.”

The CEO National IT Board said volunteers, social welfare organizations like Edhi Foundation and Rescue 1122 will also be given access to RMS and they through the app can get updated information about availability of beds, ventilators for people suffering from COVID-19. He said that nearest bed or nearest ventilator, from any location in Pakistan, can be identified through the app. He said that nearest lab to conduct test of corona can also be identified it. Shabahat Ali concluded that they were tying that people at the street level could get benefit of this app.