ISLAMABAD – Chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal on Monday said that the country would soon start conducting 40,000 tests for COVID-19 daily.
During a press briefing at the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), Chairman NDMA said that the country has achieved the capacity to conduct up to 40,000 tests for coronavirus daily by increasing the number of testing labs to 58.
“Earlier, we had eight testing laboratories and we were conducting only 500 tests daily and today, 7000 tests are being conducted per day,” he said.
“Under the government’s new strategy for testing and quarantine, our daily testing capacity will cross over 20,000 tests and we will soon touch our ultimate capacity of conducting 40,000 testing per day,” he explained. “By reaching this number of tests daily, we will come to know about the spread of virus and will take precautionary measures in those areas where there is threat of outbreak,” he added.
Chairman NDMA further informed that the country would have a requirement of 450,000 personal protection equipment (PPE) till next month and they already had arranged as many 5,00000 PPE. “We will start sending next tranche of PPE to all hospitals of all provinces from today which will be enough for them for next 10 days.”
The head of the authority said that the government was trying to enhance its local manufacturing capacity of those protection equipment which are now being imported. The purpose is to save the country’s foreign reserves and get equipment at cheaper rates, he added. He said that Pakistan had started manufacturing all items of PPE locally and none of any item was being imported now.
“For some time, we had been importing N95 masks from China but some private and government companies have started manufacturing these masks and from today (Tuesday), we will start receiving 20,000 to 50,000 N95 masks from different companies.”
Lt Gen Afzal made it clear that the government has made available its vast resources at the disposal of NDMA and with the help of these resources, the authority was making available all equipment needed in hospitals and to end this pandemic.
NDMA has purchased 700 ventilators so far and these will reach Pakistan by the last week of June and could be used on requirement, the chairman NDMA said. “In Pakistan there are 4000 ventilators available and will be used in May and June.”
Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal assured that the government was utilising all available resources to provide PPE to the doctors, nurses and paramedics who are fighting against COVID-19 pandemic. He said that if anyone was not getting protection equipment, he or she could directly coordinate with the authority and it would provide the equipment. He added that all protection and other medical equipment were being provided to hospitals across the country through different corps of the army.
“I hope all doctors will be getting the PPE,” he said adding that the government was “determined to help our frontline medics.”
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Ijaz Shah speaking at a meeting of NCOC urged the provinces to educate owners of stores and shops owners that only those people should be allowed to enter who follow guidelines on surgical masks and social distancing. He said intercity movement should be curtailed on weekends to avoid crowding for public safety and health.
Separately, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Nadeem Raza visited National Command and Operations Centre in Islamabad on Monday. Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan also accompanied CJCSC during the visit.
CJCSC was briefed about the latest situation on containment efforts and enforcement measures against COVID-19, projections about likely spread of the disease in Pakistan and support being extended to civil administration against pandemic. CJCSC lauded extraordinary efforts of NCOC for synergizing national effort and data driven input to all stake holders.