ISLAMABAD            -       Interior Minister Ijaz Shah has appealed to the people to strictly follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in order to stifle the spread of COVID-19.

In his media briefing at National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) here on Friday, he said the Prime Minister has taken strict notice of the violations of SOPs and directed the provinces to ensure compliance. The Interior Minister said action has been taken against those not following the precautionary measures but stressed that the government and law-enforcement agencies alone cannot control the situation until and unless the people extend their cooperation. He said the nation can rid the country of the disease with collective efforts and unity.

Meanwhile, the government has prepared a comprehensive support package for frontline health workers fighting COVID-19. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, Dr. ZafarMirza while briefing the media about the upcoming package here said the doctors, nurses and other paramedics who are working in emergencies, quarantine and isolation centers caring for the patients of coronavirus are national heroes and their protection is main responsibility of the government. He said the package has been prepared after a week-long consultation with health experts from all over the country. He said the federal and provincial governments will be responsible at their level to implement the package.

Dr. ZafarMirza said the package consists of seven points including financial support, security, training, care, healthcare, private health support and recognition at national level. He said tax exemption for frontline workers who embrace shahadat will be given package from Rs3 to Rs10 million rupees. He said the government will provide adequate PPEs to all frontline health workers responsible for COVID-19 patient care.  He said security for hospitals and staff involved in COVID-19 patient care will also be ensured. He said PEMRA will lay down code of conduct for print and electronic media to refrain from character assassination of health workers.

The SAPM on Health said training will be given to them in critical care management of COVID-19 patients while training programme for rational use of PPEs will also be part of the “We Care Programme.” He said under the package psycho-social support will be provided to these workers. He said under the package, COVID-19 tests will be prioritised for infected workers and provided specialised medicines for them. DrZafarMirza said interest-free loans for private hospitals through package of State Bank will be provided to ensure payment of salaries, while these hospitals will also be exempted from tax for import of equipment and accessories required for establishment of critical care facilities.