Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that his government was analysing the COVID-19 data of other countries, including India, to compare trends of the coronavirus outbreak, as authorities reported 383 new cases in the country, taking the tally to 4,457. Also Read - SAARC: Pakistan Boycotts India-led Trade Meeting on Coronavirus
“The government was analysing data of coronavirus cases not just in the country but also in the UK and US,” Khan told the media in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, where he was on a day-long visit. Also Read - Pakistan Might See 50,000 Covid-19 Cases by April End: Don't Think You Are Immune, Warns Imran Khan
He said that the government was also looking at the “numbers in India and Bangladesh as their population trends were similar to Pakistan’s.”
Khan warned that the burden on the country’s healthcare system would increase by the end of this month, as maximum patients would be identified.
The Prime Minister on Wednesday warned that the situation due to coronavirus pandemic “can further deteriorate” and “hospitals may not be able to cope” with the increasing number of COVID-19 patients.
The government has extended partial lockdown till April 14 and constantly asking people to stay indoors and follow social distancing.
Khan said the decision about easing the countrywide lockdown will be taken after seeking inputs from all the provinces on April 14.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of National Health Services said that the number of patients in the worst-hit Punjab province rose to 2,214, followed by Sindh with 1,128 cases. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa reported 560 cases, Gilgit-Baltistan 213, Balochistan 212, Islamabad 102 and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir 28.
According to the ministry, 63 people have died due to the infection, including five in one day. A total of 572 people have recovered. Thirty one people are in critical condition.
The government is concerned over the steady rise in the cases despite more than two weeks of partial lockdown in the country that has badly hit the poor as well as affected the nation’s economy.
Advisor to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza told the media that 73 per cent of patients who died had pre-existing health conditions and 85 per cent of those who died were above the age of 50, while 78 per cent of them were males.
Mirza said Pakistan had fewer coronavirus cases and a lower death rate than projected by experts but there was no room for the citizen to relax.
“If people think we don’t need those preventive measures and we don’t need social distancing, it would be a very big mistake, he said.
Separately, Mirza said in a statement that the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has allowed the local production of raw material of cholorquine as part of efforts to cope with coronavirus challenge.
He said the DRAP also permitted clinical trials of plasma therapy for coronavirus treatment, as well as the clinical trials of locally manufactured ventilators. He said over 50 companies were allowed to produce sanitizers.
Prime Minister Khan has warned the people to follow official guidelines on self-isolation or the virus would spread further. He has defended his decision to not impose a total lockdown, saying over 50 million people were below the poverty line in the country and they could die of hunger if such a step is taken.
Khan also launched the “Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme” to transfer a total of Rs 144 billion cash to 12 million poor families hit by the coronavirus crisis.
The monetary assistance would be distributed among the poor families during the next two-and-a-half weeks after biometric verification.
Addressing the members of Balochistan’s Provincial Cabinet and Parliaments in Quetta on Thursday afternoon, Khan said federal and provincial governments are working jointly to cope with the situation arising out of the coronavirus crisis.
He said that the National Command and Control Centre is minutely observing the situation across the country.
Radio Pakistan reported that China has reiterated its willingness to continue supporting Pakistan in its fight against coronavirus pandemic.
Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing called on Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad and they reviewed the latest situation arising out of coronavirus outbreak.
Qureshi said that Chinese medical assistance to Pakistan will help increase Islamabad’s capabilities to contain the virus. “Pakistan is learning from the experiences of Chinese doctors and paramedical staff, Qureshi said.