Islamabad - DG ISPR Major General Babar Iftikhar while addressing a joint conference Thursday said that Pakistan’s armed forces are cooperating with federal and provincial governments to protect the nation from COVID-19.

The online press briefing was addressed by Director General (DG) Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar, SAPM on NHS Dr. Zafar Mirza and SAPM on Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan. The online conference was broadcast from the National Command and Control Center (NCCC) on COVID-19 in Islamabad.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Health Services (NHS) Dr. Zafar Mirza confirmed 326 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the country on Thursday and urged the public to practice social distancing to avoid spreading the disease.

-Steps taken by the armed forces-

Maj Gen Iftikhar said the armed forces are active and a medical plan of action has been devised to address the issue. The DG ISPR said the armed forces are also supporting the civil administration at international airports. 

The army spokesman lauded Radio Pakistan for creating awareness among masses about the drastic effects of coronavirus. He added that the Pakistan Army has been “in action” from day one to control the spread of COVID-19.

Maj Gen Iftikhar said the armed forces are deploying all resources to help the public together with civil institutions and announced that measures are being taken to make the armed forces’ medical facilities available for an “extreme emergency” situation.

He said load management of patients is taking place and only elective surgeries are being performed at the facilities so that they can be used during emergencies.

DG ISPR Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar added that Pakistan Army scientists are researching and manufacturing personal protection equipment, face masks, and hand sanitizers.

He also said Rangers personnel are assisting civil administrations with the security and management of various quarantine camps set up across the country.

- Health figure updates -

Giving the latest updates on COVID-19 Dr. Zafar Mirza said that 326 cases have been confirmed so far and the numbers will keep changing.

“It’s a dynamic situation and numbers will increase, decrease and remain stable, so we must not be obsessive about numbers,” he said.

Dr. Mirza added that a dashboard has been launched at NCCC and verified numbers will be uploaded on it to avoid fake numbers.

Stressing upon the importance of social distancing, Dr. Mirza requested public to avoid handshaking and physical contacts in public as a preventive measure. “We have to stop this practice despite it being in our cultural values,” he said.

 

Dr. Zafar Mirza also urged public to restrict their visits to hospitals as well. “Only patients or single attendants should go hospital in emergencies also,” he said.

 

He also said that the medical professionals including doctors and staff are front row warriors in this fight against COVID-19, and the government at federal level will ensure provision of Personal Protection Equipments (PPEs) to them.

 

He also said that the government has also chalked out a strategy to engage medical professionals on a voluntary basis.

 

Dr. Mirza also added that medical experts in foreign countries and private hospitals have also offered their services in case of emergency in the country.

 

He said that the ministry has decided to increase cooperation with the Chinese government on preventing the spread of the disease while a video conference will be held between experts from China and Pakistan on communicable diseases. 

 

Dr. Zafar Mirza also said that the majority of COVID-19 cases reported so far are imported and the margin of local transmission is very low so far.

He added that all stakeholders including federal and provincial governments have done best in their capacity and are on the same page in the fight against COVID-19.

-

Economic measures -

SAPM on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the government is working on a Financial Stimulus Package to help laborers and daily wage workers.

 

Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the package will soon be presented to the Prime Minister for formal approval. She said a committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of the Finance Advisor Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh to devise a plan to avoid economic slowdown in the country.

 

Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said directions have been given to provincial governments to take strict actions against those elements who attempt to hoard food and create an artificial shortage of edible items.

 

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) discharged a COVID-19 patient after his complete recovery. The National Institute of Health (NIH) report said that a patient admitted to PIMS was discharged.

 

 

Coronavirus tally reaches 23 in KP as four new cases emerge

Peshawar add: The total count of coronavirus victims in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa reached 23 as four new cases emerged in various parts of the province.

The new cases have happened in Buner, Shabqadar subdivision in Charsadda district, Mansehra and Bara subdivision of Khyber district.

Three patients hailing from Bara tested positive and had a recent travel history from the overseas. Similarly, a 20-year-old patient, having arrived in Pakistan from Saudi Arabia on March 6, tested positive in Shabqadar.

A 25-year-old woman also fell victim to the virus in Buner district and she had recently returned from Karachi. She belongs to a mountainous village Khan Beg Banda of Mandanr subdivision.

Also, authorities quarantined areas in the provincial capital Peshawar and Mardan district. Manga union council in Mardan was quarantined on Thursday as the area reported Pakistan’s first coronavirus casualty, identified as Sadat Khan.

Also, the government locked down Canal Town area of Peshawar district due to presence of coronavirus patients. Peshawar district administration declared several educational institutions as quarantine centres.

Similarly, in Mardan, the government turned the Abdul Wali Khan University campus and the Government Postgraduate College Mardan into quarantine centres.

According to the residents of Manga union council, the entire area is locked down since early Wednesday.The residents said the entire area is in the grip of panic and fear after the sudden loss of Sadat Khan, the first fatality of the virus in Pakistan.

Sadat was a known health practitioner in the village and used to examine a good number of patients daily.