ISLAMABAD - The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal on Tuesday said that NDMA was providing equal number of medical equipment to the provinces.

Talking to a private news channel, he said more than 4,200 ventilators and 83 testing laboratories had been made functional. NDMA chairman explained that there were total 4,200 ventilators in the country, and 109 of them had been reserved for the coronavirus patients only, adding, “We have equipped our country hospitals and coronavirus centers with best treatment facilities.

He also said that the relief organisation had around 500 ventilators in its warehouse, which were a strategic reserve and would be handed over to the provinces as per their needs.

The NDMA chairman said that the government was not limiting itself to procuring ventilators, but it was also training its doctors to use them. “We will also launch an online training programme for doctors, paramedical staff and support medical staff at district level,” he informed.

He said although there was a shortage of ventilators in the international market, still this was not currently an issue in Pakistan. Lt General Afzal said Pakistan would receive 500 to 700 more ventilators in the coming month whereas around 40 new portable ventilators had already been received.

“All rules were followed in order to ensure transparency in the purchase and delivery of the items,” he said, adding, “We are completely following health ministry and the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) advisories.”

State of the art control Center is now also working in the country, he said, adding, “In order to avert the impending locust attack, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is fully prepared for timely land and aerial spray in the stricken regions.”

“Amid the measures taken to curb the surging infection rate of COVID-19, “Pakistan has also readied itself to tackle the locust attack, which, if not tackled properly, will endanger food security in the country,” he said, and added, “Around two planes for spraying, out of which one which was imported from Turkey, and five helicopters have been readied to deal with the onslaught.”

NDMA chairman further said the Authority was working with the Food and Agriculture Organisation to design, monitor and implement control operations, adding that the Authority was also providing pesticides, bio-pesticides, equipment, aircraft and training.

He said we are confident that the nation will collectively respond in the best possible manner to the challenge at hand.

The country was “relatively better prepared” to meet the challenge this year, he said, adding, But the situation could get worse with huge swarms expected to arrive in the coming June from Iran and Africa. Pakistan now had “a foolproof plan”, including aircraft and ground vehicles to spray the insects, pesticides and trained teams that can be deployed at short notice across the country, he also highlighted.