National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal Monday said around 125 tonnes of medical supplies comprising medical equipment, safety masks, ventilators, personal protective equipment and other necessary items will reach from China soon which will increase Pakistan’s capacity to fight coronavirus outbreak.
Addressing a conference here, NDMA chairman said the authority has planned a three-phase strategy to carry out preventive measures against the COVID-19 outbreak, whereas in the first phase there are three main objectives to mainly ensure proper checking of foreigners and overseas Pakistanis coming to the country, detection of COVID-19 and ensuring that they do not transfer virus to others.
The chairman NDMA was flanked by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (SAPM) Dr Zafar Mirza, SAPM on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf and Minister for National Food Security and Research Khusro Bakhtiar.
He said initially 15 days were taken to make sure the above facilities at all the airports of the country and the major issue faced in this endeavour was lack of personal protective equipment for health workers. “We had planned to provide it to the health workers by April 5 whereas now it will be supplied by March 30,” he said.
In the second phase, he said around 100 ventilators are to be arranged which will be augmented to 1,200 and then 4,000 ventilators across the country in the third phase. China, he said, has already given 15 ventilators whereas 14 tonnes of personal protective equipment, some ventilators will be sent on Friday as told by the Chinese ambassador in Islamabad.
He said an NDMA engineer has prepared a local design of ventilator. Moreover, the authority officials are also busy in preparing pollution masks, N-95 masks and safety gowns. NDMA experts have also prepared necessary chemicals and sanitizers whereas the stock position will further boost our capacity in the next month. “We want to increase our testing capacity to 1-1.5 million tests where after receiving the procured medical equipment our country in a month will be in the position to fight this pandemic,” he said.
He said Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft will bring the procured goods and a team of Chinese experts will also come in the same plane. The Chinese experts will visit different provinces, analyze arrangements and will guide to further improve efforts against the outbreak, he added.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Division Moeed Yusuf said overseas Pakistani should avoid visiting Pakistan till April 4 due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country. He said some of the overseas Pakistanis have tried to come to Pakistan from Turkey. “However, the Pakistani embassy has been contacted to stop them in Turkey and provide accommodation. Some of the overseas are also coming from Qatar who will be reaching the country Monday night,” he added.
Federal Minister of National Food Security and Research Khusro Bakhtiar said that sufficient food stocks are available in the country, advising the people not to go for panic-buying and hoarding. He said the prices of edible oil, ghee and pulses will further come down in the months of April and May.
Talking about the existing stock position, the minister said currently there are 1.8 million tons of wheat stocks available in the country whereas stocks of edible oil, ghee, potatoes, onions, pulses, poultry, livestock and diary and other basic edibles are also sufficient for consumption.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza urged the people to stay at homes for their own safety, adding that each person should play his responsibility in this testing time. “We all are united to defeat coronavirus with determination and strong resolve,” he said. “Coronavirus will not affect you unless you go out and bring it himself to your home,” he said.