Asad says healthcare system not at risk of collapsing despite rising coronavirus cases
Statesman Report
ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Friday warned that the number of coronavirus cases in the country will continue to rise.
He, however, assured the nation that “data and modelling have not shown any evidence that the disease will spread so rapidly that the healthcare system will collapse”.
Speaking during the ongoing special National Assembly session on Covid-19, Umar said that if a lockdown could have ended the virus, it would have been proven by at least one country. He pointed out that in countries which imposed strict lockdowns to curb the spread, the disease reemerged after restrictions were eased.
“This is not dengue which will go away if we kill the mosquitoes,” he said, adding that the disease will only end once a vaccine is developed.
He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had foreseen the impact of a lockdown in the country on poor people two months ago while many countries were coming to the same realisation now. “You have seen Russia, India and other countries that are reaching the peak of the virus [but] they are easing lockdowns because of the economic implications.”
He said that the country had pandemic experts, artificial intelligence specialists and data scientists on board and the government made decisions after consulting them.
While talking about the government’s tracing, testing and quarantine strategy, Umar said that the government had identified more than 500 areas in the country as virus hotspots and action had been taken to put them under quarantine. “We have seen a lot of benefit from it,” he added.
Umar told the session that the country’s testing capacity had increased over the past months and in the last 24 hours, more than 13,000 tests had been conducted. Initially, only two labs in the country could conduct tests but now, there were 70 testing labs.
“The National Disaster Management Authority has made arrangements to procure 1,000 ventilators. We have also started two training programmes for healthcare professionals — one on the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) so that they are well-protected and another one on intensive care unit (ICU) equipment,” he said, adding that the government was working to improve the health system.