A crowded market is seen during a government nationwide lockdown imposed as a preventive measure against the C…Read More
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Sunday said it will use technology to identify coronavirus hotspots to enforce a “smart lockdown” as the country reported a record number of 2,870 coronavirus cases in a single day, taking the total number of infections to over 30,330 amid easing of the month-long lockdown.
Addressing a media briefing here, Planning Minister Asad Umar said the restrictions were relaxed as the ongoing lockdown was having a devastating effect on the low-income class, but warned that it “does not mean that all preventive measures will be lifted”.
He said technology will be used to collect data to identify COVID-19 hotspots and impose “smart lockdown”.
Umar said data collection is on and all hospitals across the country would be asked to provide data to create a web portal so that real time information of the coronavirus could be consolidated in one place.
The minister said the Punjab government has developed an application that can help people locate a nearby hospital that has beds and ventilators available.
Urging people to continue taking preventive measures as it was “more important now than ever”, Umar said it was the responsibility of every citizen to follow precautions to help contain the virus spread.
Despite a surge in the number of COVID-19 infections, the first phase of the easing of the lockdown in Pakistan began on Saturday. The government announced removing restrictions by allowing more businesses to open and operate from dawn to 5pm.
However, doctors have warned against easing the restrictions. The Representative of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) have demanded that the government observe the World Health Organization protocols and implement a strict lockdown.
The Ministry of National Health Services said of the total 30,334 COVID-19 cases, Punjab registered the maximum number of 11,093 patients, followed by Sindh at 11,480, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 4,669, Balochistan 1,935, Islamabad 641, Gilgit-Baltistan 430 and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir 86.
Twenty-one new deaths due to coronavirus have been reported in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of fatalities to 639. As many as 8,023 people have recovered so far.
At least 151 police officials in Sindh have tested COVID-19 positive, a Sindh Police spokesperson said.
While 29 have recovered, two policemen died, he said.
Senate Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla has called for delaying the sessions of the National Assembly and the Senate, scheduled from Monday and Tuesday, respectively, after several lawmakers and their staff have been tested positive for the virus.
“Reports of MNAs (members of National Assembly) and their staff testing positive for the virus are worrisome. There is a possibility that more people may test positive for the virus,” Mandviwalla said.
A flight carrying sixth consignment of medical supplies and equipment from China landed in Pakistan.
According to a spokesperson of the National Disaster Management Authority, the equipment includes 24 X-Ray machines and their parts, 371,000 VTMs for testing and over one million different types of masks.
Meanwhile, people flocked to the markets on Saturday even before guidelines were issued by the provincial governments on the easing of the lockdown.
While allowing more businesses to open, the Pakistan government asked people to strictly observe social distancing and avoid going out unless there is an urgent need.
The Sindh government has allowed reopening of nine administrative departments, including Religious Affairs, Human Rights and Industries and Commerce, from Monday.
Pakistan opened its border with Afghanistan at Chaman in Balochistan province from 8am to 5pm on Saturday to allow 2,977 Afghan nationals to cross over to their country.
“The border had opened for crossing Afghans and Pakistanis into their respective countries,” a senior official of the Chaman administration, Zakaullah Durrani, told the Dawn newspaper.
He said that so far 488 Pakistanis stranded in Afghanistan have also returned.
Last month, Pakistan sent back over 37,000 Afghan families after it opened the Pak-Afghan friendship gate at Chaman on the special request of the Afghanistan government, the report said.
Thousands of Afghan nationals enter Pakistan on a daily basis for business needs and meeting family members living here as refugees since the 1980s. But the movement was stopped due the COVID-19 restrictions.