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Virus situation won't worsen this month: minister

Jul 04, 2020

Islamabad (Pakistan) July 4: The government has expressed satisfaction that the coronavirus situation in the country would not worsen during the current month as was earlier feared.
"I had earlier warned cases of Covid-19 might exceed 1.2 million by the end of July. However, as a result of precautionary measures followed by people and the administration, the tally of cases may be less than 400,000," Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar said at a press conference on Friday.
However, the minister said, while the country's overall coronavirus situation was getting better, there was no significant improvement in Sindh, particularly Karachi.
On the other hand, Foreign Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi tested positive for Covid-19 and went into self-quarantine.
Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee grilled Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Zafar Mirza over curtailment of Covid-19 testing and non-availability of oxygenated beds in hospitals.
The country reported 3,250 Covid-19 cases and 77 deaths over the past 24 hours, taking the national tally of cases to 223,779 and fatalities to 4,592.
At the press conference, Asad Umar said the number of deaths, people admitted to hospitals and patients on ventilators had dropped, which was a good sign. Lauding people's response to the government's standard operating procedures (SOPs) to curb the spread of the virus, he said if this continued the situation would continue to improve.
"However, it does not mean that the pandemic is over and you can do whatever you want as any lapse in following preventive measures can cause spike in Covid-19 cases," he said, adding: "Although cases are declining, we are not seeing significant improvement in Sindh, especially Karachi."
"The National Command and Operation Centre team held a meeting with the provincial chief secretary and health minister and is working on a way to replicate the results from the rest of the country in Sindh," he said.
Mr Umar urged the people to follow doctors' advice seriously.
Meanwhile, some areas in Karachi were placed under 'smart lockdown' on Friday to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Foreign Minister Qureshi quarantined himself after having tested positive for coronavirus. He tweeted: "This afternoon I felt a slight fever and immediately quarantined myself at home. I have now tested positive for Covid-19. By the grace of Allah Almighty, I feel strong and energetic. I will continue to carry out my duties from home. Please keep me in your prayers."
Dr Mirza grilled
During a meeting on Friday, the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Health expressed concern over slowing down of Covid-19 testing for suspected patients.
According to sources, the committee members gave a tough time to SAPM Zafar Mirza by asking thorny questions. At this, the PM's aide got angry and told the committee members that they were giving an impression that the government was doing nothing to combat the deadly virus.
The committee also expressed concern over non-availability of oxygen cylinders and medicines at the dispensary of Parliament Lodges for the parliamentarians infected with Covid-19.
Dr Mirza directed the authorities concerned to take action over the issue and address grievances of the parliamentarians. He assured the committee that his ministry would ensure availability of oxygen and medicines at the dispensary.
The committee directed the health ministry to ensure testing of employees working in Parliament Lodges in order to curb the spread of the viral disease.
Dr Mirza briefed the committee on the current coronavirus situation and efforts being made by the government to stop the spread of the disease in the country. He said the government had developed SOPs under the National Command and Control Centre and ensured its enforcement through local administrations.
He said the health ministry focused on enhancing its testing capacity and a comprehensive plan had been prepared in this regard. He said that due to the current economic situation it was impossible to implement a complete lockdown in the country; however, the government was focusing on the smart lockdown policy and the results of its implementation in different areas of Islamabad were quite satisfactory and only 113 cases of Covid-19 positive were detected out of 3,000 tests conducted during the last 24 hours.
The SAPM said the federal government would provide 1,100 oxygenated beds to the provincial governments this month. He said that about 5,000 health workers would be trained in collaboration with Chinese experts, of which 1,000 had already been trained for critical care management.
Source: Dawn