Pakistan's anti-coronavirus centre chief Asad Umar said on Sunday that the ongoing lockdown has slowed down the spread of the infection, as worst-hit Punjab province reported biggest jump in the COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours taking the country's tally to over 3,100.
Umar, who is heading the National Command and Operation Centre to implement national policy to fight the coronavirus outbreak, told the media that more decision will be taken for the targeted lockdown in coming days. "Pace of coronavirus spread is slowing down in the country due to effective lockdown measures,” he said.
Umar, who is the Minister for Planning, said that the government was developing a mechanism to identify areas with most coronavirus cases to undertake preventive measures. He said the government was trying to ensure the protection of medical staff and expand the capacity of hospitals across the country by giving protective gear, ventilators and other important medical equipment.
Ministry of National Health Services on Sunday reported on its website that so far 45 people have died due to the disease while 130 recovered. The national tally has now crossed 3,100 coronavirus infections. The Primary and Secondary Healthcare department of Punjab province, which is emerging as the epicentre of the virus outbreak in Pakistan, on Sunday confirmed 184 new coronavirus cases in the province taking the provincial tally to 1,380.
According to a statement from the department, the patients have been divided into four categories: 309 pilgrims, 443 people associated with the Tablighi Jamaat event in Raiwind, 28 prisoners and 600 citizens. Lahore has the highest number of cases at 260. Sindh province reported 881, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 372, Balochistan 192, Gilgit-Baltistan 206, Islamabad 78 and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir 14 cases.
The government was taking measures to curtail the spread of the virus but without much success. The National Coordination Committee headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan meets every day to evolve the response to the threat. The government also set up a National Command and Operation Center to implement the decisions made by the committee.
The Pakistan government on Saturday informed the Supreme Court that the number of coronavirus patients in the country could reach up to 50,000 by the last week of this month. "By April 25, the number of the coronavirus cases are feared to reach 50,000," stated the report submitted by the government on its national action plan for combating the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
According to the breakdown provided in the report, around 7,000 cases of the total are expected to be critical in nature while around 2,500 could be a cause of concern.
The government estimates that a further 41,000 cases could be of a mild nature, the Geo News reported. The report noted that confirmed cases are expected to be lower than that of countries in Europe, and assured that the government is trying to maximize its testing capacity.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Airline Pilots’ Association has asked pilots not to operate any flights because safety and other standard operating procedures were not satisfactory.
"The health and safety of our crew has always been and remains our utmost priority," according to a notification issued by the association. The actions was taken after government announced to partially reopen its air operation to bring back Pakistanis stranded in various countries.