Pakistan has only 20 coronavirus labs and 3,844 ventilators
Pakistan, which faces a continuous increase in coronavirus cases, only has 3,844 ventilators and 20 labs capable of conducting COVID-19 tests.
This was revealed in a daily briefing of the National Command and Operation Centre on Monday, the day the number of novel coronavirus cases had surged to 3,328.
According to a press release, Punjab – the most populous province of the country which has already reported 1493 confirmed COVID-19 cases – has 1,697 ventilators.
Sindh, the second most affected province, has 1,550 ventilators.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with existing 405 coronavirus cases, has 400 ventilators.
Of the rest areas, all but Azad Kashmir have far fewer ventilators than the number of coronavirus cases.
Gilgit-Baltistan has 13 ventilators against 210 reported infections, Balochistan with 191 cases has 74 ventilators, and Islamabad Capital Territory with 82 cases has only 47 ventilators.
It was said at the briefing that efforts were on to procure more ventilators along with indigenous production.
As for the capacity of conducting coronavirus tests, it was shared that at the moment Pakistan has 163 tests per million capacity. India has a capacity of 50 per million, US 4264, South Korea, 8019, and Singapore 6724 per million capacity, according to the health officials.
They said there are a total of 20 labs across the country that are capable of conducting these tests.
Of these, Sindh has 7 labs, Punjab 5, Balochistan and Gilgat-Baltistan each have 2 labs, while KP, ICT and AJK all have only one lab each.
The NCOC briefing was chaired by Federal Planning Minister Asad Umer and attended by a number of other ministers and government officials. Chief Secretaries of all the provinces and AJK participated through video conference.
The forum reviewed the present situation on new cases, efforts for containment and preparations for the future.
The meeting was informed that the government was establishing 13 more labs for coronavirus tests.
It was emphasized that the testing capacity of the existing labs needed to be significantly ramped up. It was decided that a target for the testing capacity enhancement will be fixed by Tuesday.
Trained HR to carry out testing, logistics arrangements to collect and transport samples, availability of test kits, swabs and transport medium as well as all other necessary medical equipment will be made available, it was said.
Mr Asad Umer directed that NRSP, PRSP, AKRSP networks to be integrated for community mobilisation and point of care outreach.
Utilities Stores Corporation has earmarked Rs50 billion as Special Ramazan Package for the people.
MD Utilities Stores briefed the meeting on available stock and measures being taken to ensure uninterrupted supply.
Asad Umer directed him to evolve a mechanism to stop bulk purchase and over-buying by retailers to let the benefit reach to common people.
He instructed the ministry of energy to accelerate the supply of fuel to different parts of Balochistan - particularly the border areas, where fuel supply may have been affected by the closure of Iran border.
Draft of a detailed plan of action devised by the ministry of industries in consultation with provinces to keep essential industries (food, pharmaceuticals, energy etc.) running during the lockdown period (until April 14) and beyond was shared at the meeting.
A uniformed policy in this regard will be presented by the ministry on Tuesday at the NCOC for implementation across the country.
A roadmap for flight operations post-April 11 will be presented on April 8 at NCOC for a final decision by NCC.