Pakistan may begin testing asymptomatic people, says Asad Umar
All stakeholders to decide about lockdown on April 13: Dr Firdous
Statesman Report
ISLAMABAD:Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said on Saturday Pakistan now had the capacity to conduct at least 100,000 Covid-19 tests in 26 laboratories situated across the country, adding that the government may begin testing asymptomatic individuals moving forward.
“We’ve only been testing visibly symptomatic patients thus far. It is possible that we will start testing asymptomatic people going forward provided they came in contact with those who have already tested positive,” Umar said during a press conference alongside Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza.
He further revealed that the government had procured and distributed 14 new Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test machines among the provinces.
“Yesterday we received material for 100,000 test kits, 50,000 of these will be given to Sindh while 25,000 to Balochistan.”
Citing South Korea’s mass testing and contact tracing as an example of a successful strategy against the coronavirus, Asad said that Pakistan also needed to conduct mass testing and contact tracing of those tested positive to curb the spread of Covid-19.
He said a future course of action on the country’s fight against Covid-19, including the curbs on movement and businesses, will be determined after the National Coordination Committee (NCC) session on Monday.
He added that the cabinet will be meeting Prime Minister Imran Khan before that on Sunday to seek his counsel regarding the country’s measures against the virus.
“We will present our recommendations to the prime minister on measures such as quarantining, contact tracing and mass testing tomorrow and seek his point of view on these matters,” Umar said.
“Additionally, NCC will conduct its session on Monday and we expect chief ministers of all four provinces and Azad Jammu and Kashmir to be present there. My hope is that we can constitute a unified national plan going forward,” Umar added, reminding the nation that a full team at the National Command and Operation Centre was working in close coordination with the provinces at all times.
Umar concluded by noting that the government’s revenue had fallen by about one-third from the economic fallout of Covid-19 but that remittances continued to pour in, for which he thanked overseas Pakistanis.
SAPM Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the unified decision regarding lockdown would be made on April 13 with all stakeholders in the meeting of NCC to evolve a future strategy.
Prime Minister Imran Khan was himself monitoring and reviewing the prevailing situation to successfully fight with coronavirus pandemic, she said while talking to a private news channel.