Curbing virus spread is govt’s top priority: Asad Umar

Staff Reporter


ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has said that curbing the spread of the virus is our top priority as well as improvement in the health care system of the country.

“Our basic strategy remains the same as it was on the first day,” Umar said while addressing a press conference on Saturday at the National Command and Operation Centre. “The government’s priority is still to curb the spread of the virus.” He added making the health care system stronger is the other priority of the PTI government. “We cannot impose a long lockdown. Safety precautions are a powerful measure against the pandemic.”

“It is important we make changes in our lifestyle and take safety precautions. Those not following safety precautions are not only endangering themselves but also those around them,” Umar added. The federal minister added that in the last few days the provincial governments have taken steps against those who are violating guidelines. “No one likes to do that but if the guidelines are not being followed strict action will be taken. It is important to save the lives of the people in this country,” he said. “These policies were made to protect you,” Umar said, “People are allowed to be free but the freedom ends when people stop being responsible and not take the safety precautions seriously.” Speaking about the country’s health care capacity, the minister said they have ramped up the testing capacity in the country. “Today we have more than 100 labs in the country which can conduct tests. We are also continuously working on increasing our testing capacity.” He added that work has been done to improve the testing system and now over 22,000 tests were being conducted daily.

He added, “We now have ventilators specifically dedicated for coronavirus patients and we are working on getting more. The National Disaster Management Authority had some ventilators which are being released to the provinces as their requirement is increasing.”

“Today we can manufacture products and are even getting orders for exports,” Umar added. The minister added they were also creating a helpline for the doctors where they could complain about a lack of protective gear and the problems they were facing in the hospitals. “We are also working on an app named Pak Nigahban from where people will be able to get the latest information regarding the availability of beds in hospitals and other information regarding the virus,” he added.

“For me saving lives is the most important thing but let us not forget that a huge part of the country would have been without jobs had the lockdown gone on for long,” Umar said.

“The government wants to help everyone earn their livelihoods, but not at the cost of peril to the health of others. 884 areas of Pakistan have been under smart lockdown with more than 200,000 people impacted due to restrictions,” he added. He added the government’s future strategy remains the same which is to stem the spread of the virus. “For weeks the nation was disciplined and followed guidelines however, this ended when the lockdown was eased for Eid. The government wants you to live freely but also wants you to live responsibly I appeal to industry leaders that it is our collective responsibly to follow guidelines and make sure SOPs are being followed,” he added.

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