Minister of Planning, Development and Special Initiative Asad Umar said on Saturday Pakistan now has the capacity to conduct at least 100,000 Covid-19 tests in 26 laboratories located throughout the country, adding that the government can begin testing individuals without symptoms moving forward.
“We have only tested patients who appear symptomatic so far. It is possible that we will start testing people without symptoms in the future provided they are in contact with those who have tested positive,” Umar said in a joint press conference with the Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Health Dr Zafar Mirza.
He further revealed that the government had procured and distributed 14 new Polymerase Chain (PCR) Reaction testing machines among the provinces.
“Yesterday we received material for 100,000 test kits, 50,000 of which will be given to Sindh while 25,000 will go to Balochistan.”
Citing South Korean mass testing and contact tracing as an example of a successful strategy against the corona virus, Asad said that Pakistan also needed to conduct mass testing and contact tracing of those who tested positive to curb the spread of Covid-19.
He said future actions on the country’s war against Covid-19, including restrictions on movement and business, would be determined after the session of the National Coordinating Committee (NCC) on Monday.
He added that the cabinet would meet Prime Minister Imran Khan before that on Sunday to seek his advice on the country’s measures against the virus.
“We will convey our recommendations to the prime minister on measures such as quarantine, contact tracing and mass testing tomorrow and seek his views on this issue,” Umar said.
“In addition, the NCC will hold a session on Monday and we hope key ministers from the four provinces and Azad Jammu and Kashmir will be there. My hope is that we can form an integrated national plan going forward,” Umar added, reminding the nation that the team in full at the National Command and Operations Center working in close coordination with the province at all times.
Umar concluded by noting that government revenues had fallen by around one third from the collapse of Covid-19’s economy but remittances continued to flow, which he expressed his thanks to Pakistanis overseas.
Easing the current boundary would be a big mistake: SAPM Mirza
Prime Minister of Health’s Special Assistant Dr. Zafar Mirza, meanwhile, argued that easing current restrictions would be a grave mistake for a country that is still struggling against Covid-19.
“Some people look at our numbers and think we don’t have as many cases and deaths as other countries. Thinking like this is a serious mistake,” Mirza said, reminding that new cases and deaths would surge if restrictions were relaxed.
“Actually we should consider adding our existing limits, if we can,” Mirza suggested.
Mirza also revealed that the Serena Hotel and Habib Bank Ltd (HBL) started a new program titled ‘Jazba-e-Khidmat’.
As part of that, Serena Hotels across the country have partnered with HBL to provide food for medical professionals working at the forefront in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
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