–Punjab reports over 400 cases in a day, taking COVID-19 toll to 1,918
–Death toll reaches 53; recoveries at 259 after more patients defeat virus
–35,000 tests conducted by govt so far, parliamentary body informed
ISLAMABAD/ LAHORE: Pakistan’s coronavirus tally continued to increase on Monday as Punjab, Sindh, Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) reported more cases.
As of 1am on Tuesday, COVID-19 cases in Punjab stood at 1,918 after over 538 cases were confirmed in a day. The province also repeated two more deaths from the virus, taking the provincial death toll to 15. Of these deaths, seven were reported in Lahore, four in Rawalpindi, one in Rahim Yar Khan, one in Faisalabad and one in Gujrat.
Sindh’s cases tally reached 932 after 51 new cases emerged in a day. Two more deaths were also reported in the province, taking the provincial tally to 17. Balochistan recorded 202 cases while the tally in KP has reached 405.
The federal capital reported four new cases while GB and AJK reported four and one cases, respectively. With the confirmation of new cases, Islamabad Capital Territory’s (ICT) tally stood at 82, GB, 211 and AJK 16.
While the cases grew to 3,652 across the country, Pakistan’s COVID-19 recoveries increased to 259 after 87 people were declared virus-free during the past 24 hours.
35,000 TESTS CONDUCTED:
Meanwhile, during the first meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Coronavirus Disease, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the government has conducted tests of 35,000 suspected persons so far and was implementing all the recommendations made by the National Security Committee (NSC) of the federal cabinet.
The meeting was held with National Assembly (NA) Speaker Asad Qaiser in the chair and attended by leaders from treasury and opposition benches.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza briefed the meeting on the utilisation of funds received by the government so far.
Meanwhile, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal said that there are over 3,800 ventilators available in the country, while an additional 2,000 will be imported from China. He added that 500 ventilators will reach Pakistan by Thursday while 29,000 protective kits for doctors and paramedical staff have been distributed to the provinces.
Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad told the meeting that there was a shortage of ventilators in the country and said the committee may finalise the guidelines regarding the lockdown situation in the country. “145,000 passengers have reached their destinations through 40 trains started from Karachi,” he added.
The NA speaker told the meeting that the main object to constitute the committee was to receive recommendations from the members of the parliament, which would then be forwarded to the government for implementation. He further said that a sub-committee of the main committee will be notified soon.
Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali informed the committee that Chitral is free from coronavirus at present and asked the concerned about the steps taken by the government for provision of ventilators to their area.
The opposition members asked questions from Dr Mirza and the NDMA chairman about a number of things, including the availability of ventilators, testing kits and other equipment and the government’s strategy against the pandemic.
They recommended that the private sector must be involved with the public sector and government must use resources in consultation with the provinces.
Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Senator Azam Khan Swati told the meeting that medical equipment must be sent directly to the provinces and the Hazara region and said that the tests currently being conducted by the government are not sufficient.
Minister for Industries Hamad Azhar told the meeting that the decisions are being made after consultations and funds are being utilised properly.