ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Sunday warned that the coronavirus cases could surge to 1.2 million by the end of July if strict action was not taken against the violators of guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the government to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“By the middle of June, we have around 150,000 cases and if such situation prevails and no change is made then according to the experts, the number can increase by two folds to 300,000 by the end of current month and further surge to around one million to 1.2 million by the next month mend,” Asad Umar said in a media briefing after chairing here a meeting of the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on COVID-19.

“This is of course a matter of worry but the good thing is that we have the capability to avoid such situation by taking administrative actions.” He said the administrative measures were already being taken against the violators of SOPs, however, the NCOC had decided to take stricter action against such people.

The government did not want to hurt the people, but it was its constitutional as well as moral responsibility to prevent them from spreading the disease, he added. The minister said the capacity of health system was also being improved. The NCOC had taken the decision to increase the COVID-19 testing capacity from current 40,000-50,000 daily to around 150,000 tests within four to six weeks, meaning that around 100,000 people would be tested on daily basis by mid-July.

About the availability of beds with oxygen for the coronavirus patients, Umar said at present around 2,000 patients were on oxygen beds across the country. Keeping in view the growing numbers of patients, the Federal Government would provide 1000 more beds by the end of current month and 1,000 beds next month.

2,000 people are in oxygen beds across country as of Sunday

“We will provide 500 beds each to the Sindh and Punjab provinces, 450 to Islamabad, 400 bed to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 200 bed to Balochistan, 60 to Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and 40 to Gilgit Baltistan.”

Asad Umar said according to the experts, wearing masks was the most effective way to control the pandemic as it could even help decrease the spread rate by 50 percent.

He said social distancing was the second most important requirement the people should follow.

It had repeatedly been advised that the people should avoid going out of home unnecessarily, and if it were unavoidable, then they should observe social distancing whether they were in a market, at an office or anywhere else.

He said the government wanted to save the majority of people of from the disease, warning that more strict actions would be taken against those who did not follow the SOPs, particularly shops and even markets would be locked in such cases. He said in Islamabad, the government had sealed some areas and similar actions would also be taken in Lahore and other cities of Punjab.

Asad Umar said according to the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the government was also concerned about the economic situation of common man. Pakistan managed to do something for the poor due to timely actions by the Prime Minister. However, the situation in other countries like India was the worst. India imposed a strict lockdown on a short notice causing the worst situation where people were dying of hunger and pandemic which continued spreading.

Asad Umar said slightly more than 2,000 people across the country were in oxygen beds as of Sunday. He said 2,150 oxygen beds would be provided to the provinces by end of next month. “We are constantly increasing our capacity,” he said. He urged people to exhibit discipline and follow preventive measures. “If our actions can cause spikes, our actions can also reduce spread of the virus,” he believed.

The Planning and Development Minister said that the world has now started to realise that enforcing a complete lockdown will cause economy to crumble. “We have to maintain smart lockdown in hotspots because this way we can stop spread in areas which are causing outbreaks and at the same time protect jobs and livelihoods by not imposing complete lockdowns,” he said. He added that the government had already started enforcing “smart lockdown” in several areas of the country including Islamabad.

Asad Umar urged the people to wear mask, maintain social distancing if they want to protect themselves and their loved ones from the novel Coronavirus. He warned that if people failed to follow preventive guidelines issued by the government, it would result in people losing their livelihoods.

Meanwhile, at least 6,825 new coronavirus cases surfaced in the country during the last twenty four hours taking the total tally to 139,230. These include 52,601 in Punjab, 51,518 in Sindh, 17,450 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 8,028 in Balochistan, 7,934 in Islamabad, 1,095 in Gilgit Baltistan and 604 in Azad Kashmir. 

The death toll from the virus stands at 2,632 with 81 deaths reported over the last twenty four hours. 29,546 corona tests were carried out during this period. Some, 51,735 patients have so far recovered from the disease.

COVID-19 positive cases reach 139,229 across country: NCOC

The COVID-19 caseload in Pakistan had reached 139,229 with 6,825 new cases reported during last 24 hours, an official of National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on coronavirus said on Sunday.

Sharing the data, he said that total 2,632 deaths had been reported from the disease with 81 reported during last 24 hours. He said that 51,735 patients had been recovered so far.

He added total 868,565 tests had been conducted while in last 24 hours 29,546 tests were conducted. He said 51,518 cases were reported from Sindh, 52,601 from Punjab, 17,450 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 7,934 from Islamabad, 1,095 from Gilgit Baltistan, 8,028 from Balochistan and 604 from Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

He said that so far 26,315 active cases were reported from Sindh, 33,982 from Punjab, 12,498 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 6,188 from Islamabad, 388 from Gilgit Baltistan, 5,150 from Balochistan and 342 from Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

He said that 816 deaths had been reported from Sindh, 969 from Punjab, 661 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 75 from Islamabad, 16 from Gilgit Baltistan, 83 from Balochistan and 12 deaths were reported from AJK.

He said that 24,387 patients had recovered in Sindh, 17,650 in Punjab, 4,291 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 1,671 in Islamabad, 691 Gilgit Baltistan, 2,795 in Balochistan and 250 in AJK.