ISLAMABAD - Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf on Sunday said the government was increasing its testing capacity which will help it identify coronavirus hotspots in the country.

The government will then only close off those areas allowing it to enforce a smart lockdown,” he said.

Briefing media in Islamabad on Sunday, he said testing is the main thing in our next strategy forward. He said 17 times increase has been made in number of tests since 15th of last month. We are working to enhance our testing capacity to conduct 20,000 tests daily by the end of this month, he said.

He said that 7,993 confirmed coronavirus cases were reported in the country with 514 cases added in the last 24 hours. He said 258 cases were reported in Punjab and 138 in Sindh during the last 24 hours.

Dr Moeed Yusuf said that 98,500 tests were conducted so far in the country, with 7,847 tests in the last 24 hours, highest in a single day. He said 159 people lost their lives due to the virus in the country with 16 in the last 24 hours. He said 47 people are under critical care in hospitals.

The Special Assistant informed that 1,867 people have completely recovered from this disease. Dr Moeed Yusuf said it is imperative that people follow the precautionary measures including social distancing, washing of hands and other SOPs given by the government from time to time. He said Torkham border was opened and people in batches of five hundred will be allowed. He said Pakistanis coming from abroad will be held under quarantine for 48 hours and will be tested for the presence of coronavirus. Those whose tests will be positive will be quarantined for 14 days.

Yusuf said 6,000 overseas Pakistanis will return to the country through 17 flights of PIA and some other airlines next week. He said priority will be given to bring those Pakistani labourers back who have been rendered jobless in the Middle Eastern countries.

He said Pakistanis stranded in other countries will also be repatriated in cooperation with some international airlines. The Adviser to the Prime Minister revealed that the government will grant permission to private airlines to bring back Pakistanis from countries the national flag carrier does not fly to. He said the government will initially give permission for two flights and gradually increase it. He said the government was working on repatriating citizens from Turkey and Qatar and would bring back all Pakistanis soon.

The nationwide tally of Covid-19 patients stood at 7,993 on Sunday with Sindh province recording its highest number of deaths in a day, after eight people lost their lives to the deadly virus. The patients include 3649 in Punjab, 2355 in Sindh, 1137 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 376 in Balochistan, 257 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 171 in Islamabad Capital Territory and 48 in Azad Kashmir. According to National Command & Operation Centre, 1868 patients have so far recovered while death toll stands at 159 with 16 new deaths reported during the last twenty-four hours. Around 47 corona patients are in critical condition while 98,522 tests were conducted during the last twenty four hours, it added.


Meanwhile, Chief Commissioner Islamabad Amir Ali Ahmed handed over a cheque of Rs50 million to Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Mohammad Hamza Shafqaat on behalf of the prime minister to help with coronavirus relief efforts. The money will be spent on people infected with the virus and on the maintenance of quarantine centres in the capital. The funds will also be used to prepare screening and quarantine facilities for Pakistanis arriving from abroad, according to the officials.