COVID-19 in Pakistan: Is the government going to re-impose lockdown?

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Pakistan has registered the deadliest day of coronavirus pandemic with 78 new deaths. Experts maintain that easing lockdown could be even more dangerous. Will the incumbent government re-impose lockdown in tomorrow’s meeting of the NCC?

Pakistan confirmed 78 more deaths from novel coronavirus in one day as the nationwide tally of fatalities has jumped to 1,395 and positive cases surged to 66,457, local media reported on Saturday. As the cases of COVID-19 in Pakistan are increasing, the government is likely to go for a smart lockdown to contain its spread.

According to the latest figures by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), 2,429 persons have been tested positive for COVID-19 in 24 hours.

Sindh remains the worst-hit province by the pandemic followed by Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. As of now 26,113 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Sindh, 24,104 in Punjab, 9,067 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 4,087 in Balochistan, 2,192 in Islamabad, 660 in Gilgit-Baltistan and 234 in Azad Kashmir.

Furthermore, 445 individuals have lost their lives to the epidemic in KP, 439 in Punjab, 427 in Sindh, 46 in Balochistan, 23 in Islamabad and 9 in GB. Patients are under treatment at quarantine centers of 462 hospitals where 7,295 beds are available.

Pakistan has so far conducted 532,037 coronavirus tests and 12,020 in last 24 hours. 24,131 coronavirus patients have recovered in the country whereas many are in critical condition.

Cases are likely to increase, Dr. Zafar Mirza

Special Assistant on National Health Services Dr. Zafar Mirza has urged people not to let their guard down against coronavirus, as the number of cases and deaths as a result of COVID-19 in Pakistan could increase in coming days.

Giving media briefing in Islamabad, he said situation regarding availability of ventilators and beds across the country is under control.

The Special Assistant said 18 to 20 percent out of the total number of ventilators are in use at the moment. He said National Command and Operation Centre is closely watching the situation and will adopt strategy accordingly in consultation with various stakeholders.

Dr. Zafar Mirza said people could not grasp the situation regarding lockdown. He said a new instruction guide has been issued for the people who die of corona.

Virus may be at its peak in early July, Chairman NDMA

Chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has appealed to Pakistanis to follow SOPs in order to minimize the spread of the coronavirus, and alluded that the virus may be at its peak in early July.

In an interview with Dunya News program “Dunya Kamran Khan kay Saath”, while commenting on COVID-19 in Pakistan, he said that NDMA compiles projections for the next month based on new data every day and so far, the situation is close to what the models had predicted. He said that subsequent modifications in the projections are made according to new data that comes in.

He appealed to the public to follow the SOPs related to coronavirus saying that we can overcome this virus by ensuring social distancing and wearing face masks.

Answering a question, he said that out of 12,000 ICU beds in Pakistan’s private sector, 9,500 are currently vacant. But, the problem is that hospitals under the provinces are not being managed properly. He said that a committee will soon be formed to monitor the facilities in hospitals in collaboration with the provinces.

The Chairman said that there was a collective attitude of non-compliance with the law in Pakistani society. Implementing SOPs in mosques was done with great difficulty and the government is constantly telling people to take precautions and wear masks. He said the coronavirus is not going away any time soon, all we can do is take precautionary measures against it and try to live with it.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has summoned an NCC meeting on May 31 [tomorrow] to review the country’s lockdown strategy and the trends of COVID-19 in Pakistan. Federal ministers, chief ministers and others will attend the meeting. Notably, experts in Pakistan have warned against the premature easing of lockdown restrictions, fearing an exponential rise in infections. One healthcare worker said: “Everyone’s scared and exhausted. But we are fighting, we are pushing the limits. All we ask is that the government and people understand that they can help us help them by staying at home and providing us quality protective gear.”

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