Pakistan’s de facto health minister urges calm as number of coronavirus cases continues to rise nationwide
There is no immediate need to panic about the coronavirus pandemic, as the government has implemented emergency measures to halt the spread of the disease, Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza said on Monday.
Talking to a private TV channel, the de facto health minister said it was premature to announce a lockdown of major cities, as the situation was thus far under control. He claimed the existing preventative measures, including travel restrictions and bans on public gatherings, was sufficient to control the spread of COVID-19 in Pakistan. However, he added, the measures would be expanded if the need arose and the health ministry was monitoring the situation closely.
Pakistan’s national coronavirus tally climbed to 95 on Monday, as Sindh reported that 50 pilgrims returning from Iran who had been quarantined at Taftan had tested positive for the disease. Meanwhile, Punjab province confirmed its first case of the disease—although observers have called into question the veracity of the figures, as the province has limited testing to those who have recently traveled abroad and has not yet implemented any screening for community spread.
Both Sindh and Punjab province have completely banned large public gatherings, as the federal government has announced closures of educational institutions across the country, and urged people to practice good hygiene and social distancing to protect themselves from the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In his press interaction, Mirza advised the public to practice the safety measures suggested by health experts, including frequent hand washing and avoidance of public spaces. However, despite the climbing tally, he said the situation was still under control.
The special assistant to the P.M. also urged media to help apprise the public about the best means to avoid becoming infected with the coronavirus. He said it was the responsibility of every individual to be responsible for not only their own safety, but also of their loved ones.
To a question on reports about people in Punjab being denied coronavirus tests, Mirza claimed various hospitals across the province had been equipped with testing and prevention kits and the cases being reported from the country’s most populated province were being looked at and treated thoroughly.