Coronavirus yet to peak in Pakistan, FM Qureshi tells NA
The important session of the National Assembly is currently underway in Islamabad as treasury and opposition members are meeting to debate on the country's incumbent situation due to COVID-19 pandemic.
The physical session of the assembly is being convened under strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) ensuring the safety of the parliamentarians and staff.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said there were 661 deaths reported, over 29000 confirmed positive cases and over 8000 people have been recovered from the deadly virus.
“First case was reported on February 26 and at that time the capacity was 100 per day but now with the grace of Allah Almighty there are many testing lab across country,” he said.
“We are ahead of other South Asian countries on the testing record of COVID-19,” he added.
The health sector was devolved to provinces in 2010, he pointed out.
“Our death and infection rate is 2.17 per cent. Across the world this percentage is 6.8pc. So we have been largely spared from the larger consequences of this pandemic," he added.
He said that despite being a developing country with an unenviable healthcare system, Pakistan had held up better than most developed countries. The foreign minister added that when comparing with other countries, it was important to consider data.
However, he said that Pakistan's coronavirus outbreak has yet to peak and the real challenge has yet to present itself.
National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri has directed lawmakers to sit one seat apart and wear masks.
"If someone wants to hold a meeting, kindly go outside," he said.
"There is no doubt that this is an unprecedented challenge," said Mahmood, adding that "different experiments" are being held to curb the spread of Covid-19 until a vaccine is developed.
The foreign minister said that the government had honoured the opposition's request to summon a special NA session with a one-point agenda.
Qureshi said that the coronavirus didn't discriminate on the basis of colour and religion.
"When I see the comments made by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and people from his party, it pains me. Muslims are being called 'super spreaders'."
The foreign minister lamented the fact that hate speech and hate mongering were taking place in India during this time of crisis.
Foreign Minister Qureshi revealed that Iran "pushed 4,000-5,000 Pakistanis" in Balochistan despite Islamabad's request to wait until a quarantine facility was developed.
"They are Pakistanis, we cannot disown them, we had to own them," he said. "I laud the Balochistan government who did their best [to provide facilities] despite scarce resources."