Doctors push Sindh govt to extend lockdown, say slum-dwellers at risk from coronavirus

Doctors push Sindh govt to extend lockdown
Doctors on Tuesday pushed for the Sindh government to extend the lockdown to contain the novel coronavirus as a “large population of the city are slum-dwellers” and, therefore, at risk of getting infected by and spreading the pandemic.

In a meeting with Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah at the CM House, doctors and health professionals suggested that the lockdown conditions should not be eased after April 14 as the virus will spread like wildfire if restrictions were to be lifted. If limitations on social activities were removed, it was likely that the spread of coronavirus would not be controlled, they warned.

“A large population of the city are slum-dwellers — they live in small houses with large families, travel in buses [and] crowds,” they said, adding that if such kinds of crowds were not barred from assembling, COVID-19 infections can rise rapidly as people would catch the virus in buses or on the streets and take it back home, posing a risk to their family members and localities.

CM Shah told the meeting that he wanted support, cooperation, and guidance from doctors and medics to fight the coronavirus. He added that he would consult with the cabinet and other stakeholders on the matter.

The CEOs and owners of the private hospitals assured him that they would provide him equipment, human resources, and technical and expert support whenever the provincial government required. They also lauded the chief minister’s efforts and prompt action, noting that the situation could have been worse had he not taken timely measures.

Shah in this regard formed a committee headed by Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho — with Dr Asim, Dr Sadia, and various others on board — to set up a plan, requirements, and arrangements to tackle the situation.

 

We will emerge stronger from the coronavirus challenge: Army Chief

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa
Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Tuesday said that Pakistan will emerge stronger from the coronavirus challenge, as the number of confirmed cases of the virus crossed the 4,000 mark today.

The remarks were made by the army chief during the 31st Corps Commanders’ Conference held via video link to discuss the impact of the coronavirus.

“The forum reviewed geo-strategic, regional and national security environment with particular emphasis on latest situation arising from COVID-19. Forum under took comprehensive review of deployment of Pakistan army troops assisting civil administration in aid of civil power across the country,” read the ISPR statement.

During the conference, the army chief directed all commanders to extend maximum assistance in moving critical resources and reaching out to people in far-flung areas including GB, AJ& K, Interior Sindh,and Balochistan.

The army’s top brass paid tribute to doctors, paramedics, health care workers and LEAs who were on the forefront to battle the coronavirus.

The conference also paid tribute to the Kashmiri people who are fighting the pandemic under Indian atrocities and struggling for their just cause of self-determination, said the ISPR.

“Being a nation with vibrant youth and resilient people ready to share & sacrifice, we will emerge stronger from this challenge, InshaAllah,” said the army chief.

Federal govt to provide PPEs to hospitals directly: Asad Umar

Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar
Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar announced on Tuesday that the federal government will directly provide personal protective equipment (PPEs) to approximately 400 hospitals across Pakistan as the country’s battle against Covid-19 intensifies.

He made the announcement during a press conference with Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza.

He said that healthcare in Pakistan is a devolved matter and thus it is the responsibility of the provinces to provide PPEs to frontline medics in this time of crisis. But he argued that it was a time of emergency and that the government’s decision to deal with the hospitals directly while circumventing provincial authority was prudent and timely to ensure that there are no more delays in the distribution of medical equipment.

“We have identified approximately 400 hospitals across the country for this purpose. But we will prioritise 153 hospitals that have 5 or more ventilators before moving on to others,” revealed Umar.

The provincial breakdown of these hospitals is as follows:

Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK): 4

Balochistan: 4

Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT): 7

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 21

Punjab: 75

Sindh: 42

The minister also revealed that the federal government has sent 39,500 medical kits to the provinces.

The provincial breakdown of these kits is as follows:

Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK): 3,000

Balochistan: 5,600

Gilgit Baltistian: 1,500

Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT): 2000

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 7,600

Punjab: 10,600

Sindh: 9,200

He argued that testing was extremely important in country’s fight against Covid-19 and thus the government was doing all it can to increase testing capacity.

“We were testing around 700 to 800 people per day weeks ago. Then we were testing around 2,000 and now can test around 3,000. So you see, our capacity is constantly increasing. Our target is to conduct 25,000 tests per day by the end of April,” Umar revealed.

He once again reiterated the government’s pledge to mitigate the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Through our Ehsaas programme, we want to help 12 million lower-income families who have been suffering financially during this pandemic. Starting tomorrow, cheques will start going out. 4 million families will get monetary assistance at first,” revealed Umar.

The minister also dispelled the notion that Pakistanis have immunity from Covid-19 and urged his countrymen to take precautions to protect themselves and others from the virus.

“Pakistanis are very self-confident and brave and that’s a good thing but that doesn’t mean we are somehow immune from contracting Covid-19. Any of us can contract the virus. And, those of you who are rich and think that having the services of a good doctor will protect them, let me remind you of Boris Johnson, who despite being the prime minister of a prosperous country with excellent healthcare like Britain, is in the ICU at this very moment.

If you take care of yourself, you will automatically take care of others around you,” Umar reasoned.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza, meanwhile, agreed with Asad Umar that mass testing was an extremely effective way of defeating Covid-19.

“The curve of coronavirus cases can be flattened in Pakistan through mass testing,” Mirza said.

He revealed that in Pakistan, 163 tests are being conducted per one million people. In comparison, 50 tests per one million are being carried out in India and 964 per million in Iran.

While he acknowledged that the figure of 163 tests per million is “not really” enough, Mirza said “all efforts are being put into increasing our testing capacity.”

He also said that the government was constantly tracing contacts of those who had tested positive for the virus and revealed that his team was working on a strategy titled ‘Track, Test and Quarantine’ as part of the government’s overall strategy to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country.

Govt to take strict action against those involved in wheat, sugar crisis

Govt to take strict action against those involved in wheat, sugar crisis
The government will take strict action against those involved in artificial crisis of wheat and sugar after release of Inquiry commission’s report on 25th of this month.

This was stated by Special Assistant to the Prime Mister on Information and Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan while briefing to newsmen about Federal Cabinet’s decisions, which met in Islamabad today (Tuesday) with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair.

She said the government machinery is fully active to ensure the availability of quality edibles at affordable prices and no negligence would be tolerated in this regard.

Firdous Ashiq Awan said the prime minister has warned that strict action will be taken against those found involved in hurling threats to commission.

The Special Assistant said the Prime Minister has directed to resolve the issues being faced by growers and farmers on immediate basis.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Special Assistant on Accountability, Shahzad Akbar presented report to the cabinet regarding shortage of sugar and wheat in the country.

The Cabinet approved proposals regarding revamping, reconstructing and reorganizing Evacuee Trust Property Board, giving nod to utilize its properties in Health, Education and Housing sectors.

Special Assistant on National health Services Dr. Zafar Mirza gave briefing to the cabinet about ongoing Coronavirus cases and government’s measures to provide relief to Corona-hit labour population.

The Cabinet was told that 39,000 personal protective kits have been dispatched to all provinces for protection of paramedical staff engaged in Coronavirus-hit patients.

Special Assistant on Youth Affairs Usman Dar informed the cabinet that 7,17,119 youth have so far been registered with Corona Relief Tigers Force, which is working in district, tehsil and Union Council-level across the country.

Special Assistant on Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar gave detailed briefing to the cabinet on Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme.

The Cabinet was told that the federal government is providing cash assistance worth 12,000 rupees to over 12 million deserving families under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program following coronavirus outbreak in the country.

The deserving families would get this cash assistance after biometric verification through over 18,065 sale points or retail shops of Habib Bank Limited and Bank Al-Falah across the country.

The cabinet also approved provision of broadband internet service through Universal Service Fund to 62 districts of the country.

 

Coronavirus: Pakistan’s confirmed cases jumps to 4,004, recovery rate rose to 429

Tally of coronavirus patients
Nation wide of confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 4,004 on Monday after new infections were confirmed in the country and recovery rate also increases that is 429.

The province-wise break up of the total number of cases is as follows:

Total confirmed cases: 4,004

• Sindh: 986

• Punjab: 2,004

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 500

• Balochistan: 202

• Islamabad Capital Territory: 83

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 211

• AJK: 18

Deaths: 54

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 17

• Sindh: 18

• Balochistan: 1

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 3

• Punjab: 15  

  • Islamabad: 1

The worldwide number of officially confirmed fatalities from the novel coronavirus now stands at above 74,000.

More than 1 million declared cases have been registered in 200 countries and territories since the epidemic first emerged in China in December. Of these cases, at least 250,000 are now considered recovered.

Finance ministry releases Rs10 million for utility stores

The Managing Director of Utility Stores Corporation Umer Lodhi announced that the finance ministry has released Rs10 billion for the government body.

The MD said that the money was part of the Rs 50 billion earmarked by the government for the utility stores. He added that the customers buying from the utility stores has also increased, adding that they are trying to ensure that essential items are available at their stores.

Balochist govt extends lockdown

Amid the growing number of coronavirus cases in Balochistan, the provincial government has decided to extend the lockdown till April 21.

Read more: Balochistan govt decides to extend coronavirus lockdown till April 21

According to the notification issued by the Balochistan government, the existing restrictions have been extended for two weeks across the province.

CM KP Mahmood Khan turns down guard of honour

Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan refused to take the guard of honour offered to him upon his arrival in Mardan.

The CM was being given the guard of honour by the police on his arrival at the quarantine montiering centre set up in the Abul Wali Khan University. He added that the doctors, nurses and medical staff were the ones who should be given a guard of honour.

Emergency supplies for Balochistan dispatched on orders of COAS: ISPR

Director General Inter Services Public Relations Major General Babar Iftikhar on Tuesday announced that emergency supplies of medical equipment, including PPEs, have been dispatched to Quetta for the medical staff in Balochistan on orders of Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

“Doctors and paramedics are the frontline soldiers in this war,” the IPSR quoted Gen Bajwa in a tweet. The COAS added that the most advanced nations and governments were finding it extremely difficult to fight the pandemic.

Read more: Pakistan Army sends emergency medical supplies to Quetta: ISPR

PIA cancels special flight to Iraq

The Pakistan International Airline has cancelled its special flight to Iraq’s Baghdad after the pilots showed reluctance over the coronavirus fears.

The special flight was supposed to bring back 161 Pakistanis stranded in Baghdad.

Read more: Pakistan International Airline cancels special flight to Iraq

The Civil Aviation Authority, on the other hand, has suspended the operation of all private and chartered planes till April 11.

 

Pakistan welcomes joint statement by int’l organizations on IOK restrictions: FO

Pakistan welcomes joint statement by int’l organizations on IOK restrictions: FO
Pakistan on Tuesday welcomed the joint statement by six international human rights organizations, calling on India to immediately release all arbitrarily detained prisoners and restore internet access in Indian Occupied Kashmir, reported.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said the joint statement rightly underlines that measures to combat Covid-19 must respect human rights of every individual.

“Urgent release of political prisoners, human rights defenders and all those arrested in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir after 5 August 2019 is therefore imperative,” she Tweeted.

The FO spokesperson further said the statement underscores that allegations of torture against Kashmiri prisoners as part of a decades-long pattern of abuses have been repeatedly denounced by human rights and UN bodies.

It may be noted that India’s unrelenting military siege and lockdown in Occupied Kashmir has completed eight months.

India revoked the independent status of Occupied Kashmir in August last year.

The number of total positive cases in the entire occupied Jammu and Kashmir has reached 54, while two patients have died so far.

Pakistan Army sends emergency medical supplies to Quetta: ISPR

Pakistan Army sends emergency medical supplies to Quetta: ISPR
Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (DG-ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar on Tuesday said emergency supplies of medical equipment has been dispatched to Quetta on orders of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

The DG ISPR in his tweet said the equipment has been sent to Quetta for the medical staff who are fighting Covid-19 in Balochistan, as doctors & paramedics are the frontline soldiers in this war.

 

According to Major General Babar Iftikhar, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa said Pakistan govt is striving hard to acquire and supply the required resources. Most advanced nations are finding it extremely difficult to fight this pandemic, the COAS added.

“In this hour of distress we must remain patient and steadfast.” General Bajwa said.

Syed Fakhar Imam takes oath as the Federal Minister

Syed Fakhar Imam takes oath as the Federal Minister for National Food Security
Syed Fakhar Imam has taken oath as the Federal Minister for National Food Security on Tuesday,News reported.

President Arif Alvi administered him the oath at a ceremony in Islamabad.

On Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet had witnessed a major reshuffle with portfolios of several federal ministers changed.

According to details, Syed Fakhar Imam was named Federal Minister for National Food Security, while Makhdoon Khusru Bakhtiyar has been made Federal Minister for Economic Affairs.

Hammad Azhar had been relieved of the portfolio of economic affairs and named Minister for Industries.

Babar Awan has been appointed as Advisor for Parliamentary Affairs, while Mohammad Shahzad Arbab has been removed as Advisor to the premier on accountability.

Amin ul Haq has been appointed as Federal Minister for Telecom.

MQM-P convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui’s resignation as IT minister was also accepted.

The reshuffle follows on the heels of the release of the inquiry reports on sugar and wheat crisis that pointed an accusing finger at PTI stalwart Jahangir Khan Tareen, a brother of Khusro Bakhtiyar and PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi over their alleged involvement in the scam.

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Pakistan International Airline cancels special flight to Iraq

Pakistan International Airline
The Pakistan International Airline has cancelled its special flight to Iraq’s Baghdad after the pilots showed reluctance over the coronavirus fears.

The special flight was supposed to bring back 161 Pakistanis stranded in Baghdad.

The Civil Aviation Authority, on the other hand, has suspended the operation of all private and chartered planes till April 11.

It, however, has given an exemption to diplomats and cargo planes.

Read more: Two PIA pilots test positive for coronavirus

Yesterday, Government of Punjab’s Health Ministry announced that two pilots working for Pakistan’s national carrier, PIA have tested positive for novel coronavirus.

Balochistan govt decides to extend coronavirus lockdown till April 21

Balochistan govt decides to extend coronavirus lockdown
Amid the growing number of coronavirus cases in Balochistan, the provincial government has decided to extend the lockdown till April 21.

According to the notification issued by the Balochistan government, the existing restrictions have been extended for two weeks across the province.

Earlier today, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan had confirmed that 31 more people had covered from the COVID-19 in the province.

CM Jam Kamal Khan had taken to Twitter saying at least 31 more patients who tested positive for COVID-19 had made a full recovery in Balochistan and discharged from hospital.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s coronavirus tally had jumped to 3,505 cases were reported from across the country during the last 24-hours, the national dashboard maintained by the federal ministry of health had shown.

According to the statistics on the dashboard, the death toll in the country from the virus had jumped to 51.