Govt ready to tackle coronavirus, Senate told - Pakistan Today

Govt ready to tackle coronavirus, Senate told

–PTI Senator says NAP developed to prevent coronavirus from spreading in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Leader of the House in Senate Syed Shibli Faraz on Friday said that a National Action Plan for coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention and management has been developed.

Responding to point raised by the opposition, the leader of the House said that one of the cases was reported from Karachi and other one from Islamabad but both the patients were in stable condition now. More than 120 samples have been tested since February 1, he added.

Faraz said that the government was on high alert over possible spread of novel coronavirus from China, Iran and other affected countries.

He said that a high-level multi-sectoral national task force of International Health Regulation (IHR) 2005 was convened on January 20 to review the state of preparedness and identify gaps in the country for different core capacities of IHR.

Under the chairmanship of special assistant to prime minister, the National Core Committee was regularly monitoring the situation and preparedness measures, he added.

He also said that sporadic suspected cases, which were being identified by the airports, ground crossing and referred cases, were investigated by NIH teams and Provincial Diseases Surveillance and Response Units (DSRUS).

He added that a total of 80,994 cases have been reported with a total of 2,762 deaths. More than 99 per cent of the cases were reported from the mainland China, he added.

He said that cases have been reported from a least 38 other countries.

Moreover, Faraz said that field epidemiologists have been deployed at Disease Surveillance Response Units for contact tracing.

He said that the mechanism for screening of all the passengers traveling at all the international airport, land crossings and seaport from other countries, especial those from China and Iran, has been reviewed and has been strengthened through provision of additional logistics i.e, equipment, human resource, PPE and trainings.

Standard guidelines and SOPs have been developed by the ministry for screening of the cases and has been shared with the all the stakeholders, he said.

He also said that special counters have been established at all the major international airports of Pakistan at arrival terminals where health declaration forms with travel history to china, Iran or other affected countries and their contact details of all travelers, were being enforced for identification of the suspected passengers by health officials and providing risk communication.

He said that hospitals in all the major cities of Pakistan have been identified for isolation of suspected patients and isolation room/wards have been established.

Diagnostic facilities have been made available at NIH and at Peshawar, Quetta, Karachi and Lahore, he said.

Public Health Emergency Operation Centre has been activated under the umbrella of Ministry of NHSRC for reviewing the situation on daily basis, risk assessment and follow-up of the case, he added.

He said that public awareness messages have been developed and aired health helpline for COVID-19 was being established. Dedicated staff was following up with passengers through dedicated telephonic mechanism on regular basis, he added.

Regarding COVID-19 preparedness measures in Balochistan, Faraz said that for coordination, a high-level meeting was held on February 24 at NIH to discuss the preparedness measures for COVID-19 in the country.

The meeting was chaired by the SAPM/minister of state for health and attended by the provincial chief secretaries/ health secretaries besides representation from Pakistan Army.

In order to strengthen ground crossing at Taftan, Chaman and Torkham borders, the Balochistan Government has imposed emergency at bordering areas of Baluchistan with Iran, he said.

He said that the movement of all the incoming and outgoing passengers was being closely at Taftan border, while the border was being closed and school vacation have been extended Quarantine facility has been established with provision of additional staff at these borders.

A team of NIH has been deputed for quick assessment of Taftan, Chaman and Torkham borders, he added.

He also said that necessary kits have also been provided besides training of technical staff for provincial public health lab, Quetta. Provision of thermal scanners, if required for these areas was under consideration, he added.

Faraz said that mobile molecular and diagnostic lab was available at NIH to be deployed if required. Capacity building of the different cadres of staff on rapid response, contact tracing, risk communication, he, said.

Earlier speaking in the House, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Azam Khan Swati urged the chair to convert the House into Committee of the Whole so that Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza could brief the senators.

Leader of the Opposition Raja Zafarul Haq said that there should be proper planning for meeting of the committee of the Whole.