ISLAMABAD        -           With three more deaths reported during the last 24 hours in the country, the total number of coronavirus patients swelled to 812 on Monday, according to officials.

The official dashboard of COVID-19 launched by ministry of National Health Services (NHS) confirmed a total of 812 cases from all regions in the last 24 hours. Official data shows three more deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours. However, six patients were also recovered so far from the disease.

According to officials, at least 352 cases were confirmed in Sindh, 225 in Punjab, 110 Baluchistan, 38 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 71 in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), 15 in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and o1 in Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJ&K). 

The National Institute of Health (NIH) in its Daily Situation Report (DSR) said that at least 12,301 travellers were screened at Point of Entries (POEs) of the country during the last 24 hours. It also said that contact tracing of confirmed cases was being carried out by the Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) while the risk communication carried out among healthcare workers and affected communities during contact tracing.

It also said that NIH laboratory was providing support to provinces and regions for testing.

Meanwhile, Chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal while addressing a press briefing here said around 125 tonnes of procured goods comprising medical equipment, safety masks, ventilators, personal protective equipment and other necessary items would reach from China that would increase Pakistan’s capacity to fight coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak.

Chairman NDMA said the Authority had planned a three phase strategy to carry out preventive measures against the COVID-19 outbreak whereas in the first there were three main objectives to mainly ensure proper checking of foreigners and overseas Pakistanis coming to the country, detection of COVID-19 and ensure that they did not transfer virus to others.

He said initially 15 days were taken to make sure the above facilities at all the airports of the country and the major issue faced in this endeavour was lack of personal protective equipment for health workers. “We planned to provide it to the health workers by April 5 whereas it would be supplied by 30 March.”

General Afzal informed that the Authority was in contact with vendors in China in Pakistan Embassy through video link to procure the testing kits, ventilators and other goods, however, negotiations were underway to get the items.

He thanked the governor State Bank of Pakistan for opening one window despite a holiday to get the amounts paid to the Chinese vendors for getting the medical equipment. “At least, four banks are active at the moment to assist NDMA for the transactions to be carried out and before the day ends NDMA will send the money to all the vendors in China.”

In the second phase, he said around 100 ventilators were to be arranged which would be augmented to 1,200 and then 4,000 ventilators across the country in the third phase. China, he said had already given 15 ventilators whereas 14 tonnes of personal protective equipment, some ventilators would be sent on Friday as told by the Chinese Ambassador.

He extended his felicitation to the media that NDMA’s engineer had prepared a local design of ventilator which would be demonstrated before him today. Moreover, the Authority officials were also busy in preparing pollution masks, N-95 masks and safety gowns. NDMA experts had also prepared necessary chemicals and sanitizers whereas the stock position would further boost our capacity in the next month. 

“We want to increase our testing capacity to 1-1.5 million tests where after receiving the procured medical equipment our country in a month will be in the position to fight this pandemic,” said the Chairman NDMA.

He said Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft would bring the procured goods and a team Chinese expert would also come in the same plane.

The Chinese experts would visit our provinces and analyze our arrangements and would guide to further improve our efforts against the coronavirus outbreak, he added.

He appreciated the efforts of Chinese people and overseas Pakistanis and said, “Many brothers in China have helped us to get the items.”

General Afzal also said, “The owner of Alibaba (Mr Jack Ma) was going to provide us 500,000 safety masks on Wednesday whereas on the next day 50,000 testing kits for coronavirus would be sent to Pakistan.”

He said the government, NDMA and ministry of health services, regulations and coordination were working collectively to beat COVID-19.