ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday announced that he is “personally overseeing measures” to deal the with coronavirus threat.

The Prime Minister’s first public statement comes as the total number of the virus infections rose to 33 in the country till late Saturday. The increase of five cases came as Sindh and Balochistan reported two new cases each while the first case in Islamabad was confirmed in a woman who arrived from the United States.

Imran Khan took to Twitter and advised the public to follow safety instructions issued by the government regarding COVID-19. “While there is a need for caution there is no need for panic,” the PM said on the social networking site and said that he would very soon address the nation on this issue.

The prime minister said his government would stay on alert to the dangers posed by the virus and so far sufficient protocols for the safety and health of our people have been put in place. “The WHO has commended our efforts as being amongst the best in the world,” the PM observed.

Pakistan calls for coordinated efforts

Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui on Saturday said the threat of Coronavirus requires coordinated efforts at global and regional level. In a tweet she said, we have communicated that Special Assistant on Health will be available to participate in the video conference of SAARC member countries on the issue.

Food security plan

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza said that a comprehensive food security plan would be formulated to avoid food shortages in the coming weeks and months.

In his tweets in the backdrop of the decisions taken by the National Security Committee meeting to deal with coronavirus,

 

 

 he said the ministry of food security and research will lead this effort. Dr Zafar Mirza said the steps taken by the National Security Committee were necessary to protect Pakistan from the coronavirus. He said, “We all have a role to play to fight this disease.”

 

On the other hand, the National Coordination Committee on novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in its first meeting held on Saturday confirmed another case in the country taking the toll to 29.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Health Services (NHS) Dr. Zafar Mirza talking to media after the meeting of NCC-COVID-19 said that 29 cases are confirmed and around 30 suspect cases are also being tested in labs.

Dr. Zafar Mirza said that Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) and the ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has devised a strategy for mass campaigning on media for public awareness which will be started soon.

Statement released by ministry of NHS said that the first meeting of NCC on COVID-19 was held here. The meeting was convened by SAPM on NHS Dr. Zafar Mirza.

The meeting was also attended by Chief Ministers (CMs) through video link. Other participants included Director General (DG) ISPR, SAPM on I&B Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, SAPM on National Security Division (NSD) Dr. Moeed Yusuf, Federal Secretary (FS) NHS Dr. Tanveer Qureshi, FS on Finance Naveed Kamran Baloch, FS on I&B Akbar Durrani, chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Surgeon General as well.

The meeting reviewed implementation upon the decisions taken in the meeting of National Security Committee (NSC) and noted that provinces have implemented the decisions taken in the meeting.

Statement said that it was decided in the meeting that only Indian national pilgrims will be allowed entry from Kartarpur after their complete screening.

It said that eight laboratories in country have been allocated for the diagnosing of COVID-19. The laboratories include, National Institute of Health (NIH) Islamabad, Shuakat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital (SKMCH) Lahore, Public Health Laboratory (PHL), Lahore, Nishtar Medical College (NMC) Multan, PHL,  Khyber Medical University, Peshawar, Agha Khan University Hospital (AKUH), Karachi, Dow Medical University (DMU), Karachi and PHL Quetta.

The statement also said that Gilgit Baltistan (GB) has been also being provided the diagnostic facility by NIH, while separate rooms have been allocated in all hospitals of the country.

The meeting also discussed that all educational institutions including, madras, universities along with their staff is closed and implementation on the National Action Plan (NAP) in this regard is being implemented.

Statement issued said that all land crossing areas are closed for two weeks while screening on Point of Entries (POEs) is also being strengthened.

The meeting decided to further improve the screening with the coordination of all provinces at Karachi and Lahore airports.    

The government on Friday took strict preventive measures to control the import and spread of the virus and decided to seize its western border and banned the mass gatherings for two weeks in the country.

Though government representatives denied any ‘health emergency’ situation in the country however, announced a strict preventive plan comprising three weeks which included restricting of all activities in the country.

Informing about the decisions taken in the meeting SAPM on NHS Dr. Zafar Mirza had said that government has decided to seize its western border with Iran and Afghanistan for two weeks.

He stated that the border will be completely seized on entry points of Chamman, Turkhum and Taftan while all trade transition, private entry and corridors will be closed for any kind of activity.

He said that at the Taftan Point of Entry (POE) six thousand pilgrims had returned from Iran and government had put them in quarantine for fourteen days. He added that first batch of pilgrims after completing the quarantine period have been discharged on special buses and handed over the provincial governments with all their data.

SAPM on NHS had also announced restriction of international flights only for three airports of the country including Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi for improved screening of the international flights and passengers.

Dr. Zafar Mirza said that it was decided in NSC meeting to ban the mass gatherings in the country for two weeks as minimum human interaction is the best prevention and it was better for the safety of the public.

Elaborating the public gatherings he said that Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches will be played with empty stadiums and spectators will watch matches sitting at their homes.

Dr. Zafar Mirza also announced that no wedding ceremonies will be held at marriage halls for two weeks onwards while there will be ban in cinemas as well.