Many countries replicating Pak model of smart lockdown: Shibli Reduced testing ‘not a conspiracy’, says focal person

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Staff Reporter

Islamabad

The Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Shibli Faraz, said on Sunday that the government had adopted a balanced strategy to cope effectively with the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic.
Addressing a news conference along with Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Digital Pakistan Tania Aidrus and Focal Person to the PM on Covid-19 Dr. Faisal Sultan, Shibli Faraz said Pakistan introduced the smart lockdown policy to save precious lives and livelihood of people. The Pakistani model was being replicated in many countries in the world, he added.
The minister said Prime Minister Imran Khan had the opinion from day one that Pakistan could not afford complete lockdown policy due to ground realities.
He said many countries which observed strict lockdown to stop spread of this global epidemic were now facing economic hardships and rising death toll. Faraz said National Command and Operation Center played a vital role and managed the situation scientifically with analysing data on daily basis.
He said at the time of Eidul Fitr, the cases of coronavirus had spiked as people thronged markets and shopping malls without adopting social distancing practice.
He said the pandemic was in control but it was still prevalent and carelessness may prove costly. He appealed to the masses to adopt SOPs on the occasion of Eidul Azha as it was necessary to defeat the pandemic.
The minister said in February, when the first case of coronavirus was reported in Pakistan, there was no data available, doctors and paramedics had no training to handle this disease, healthcare system was weak and economy not very good shape. Keeping in mind these facts, the government adopted a strategy, he said.
He said some elements not interested in welfare of masses criticised Imran Khan’s strategy but the PM showed steadfastness and refused to budge under pressure.
He said those supporting blanket lock down were representing elite class but Imran Khan showed determination and with the grace Allah Almighty the strategy paid off and the cases started coming down.
Shibli Faraz said those supporting complete lockdown did not have the moral courage to accept the fact that PM’s strategy had paid the dividends.
He said having realization for the problems of the vulnerable segments of the society, the government disbursed Rs 160 billion among over 13 million deserving people in most transparent manner.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s focal person on Covid-19 Dr Faisal Sultan on Sunday brushed aside the notion that Pakistan is carrying out testing far lower than its capacity “under some conspiracy or design”.
Dr Sultan said that a lower testing rate is being witnessed due to a “reduction in symptoms being witnessed in people”.
“When the spread was more rapid, we carried out a greater number of tests,” he said. Dr Sultan said that during mid-June, there was an average of more than 32,000 tests conducted daily. In the last 24 hours, 23,000 tests were carried out, he said.
When asked what the current testing capacity for the country is, he said that Pakistan is currently capable of carrying out testing in excess of 50,000 tests a day which can further be ramped up to 75,000 if need be.
He said there is no “grand master” who can move the number of tests up or down. “There are 102 labs operating all across the country,” he said, adding that they are carrying out testing more under the contact tracing mechanism now.
He said that demand is “based on symptoms or perceived need” and that “health-seeking behaviour can obviously affect testing numbers”.