ISLAMABAD - Special Assistant to the PM on Health Dr Zafar Mirza called on Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior Senator Rehman Malik yesterday and discussed the prevailing situation after the coronavirus outbreak and reviewed the preventive measures taken by the government.
Senator Kalsoom Perveen, Parliamentary Secretary Health Dr Nusheen Hamid, and Director National Institute of Health Dr Mohammad Salman were also present at the meeting.
Dr Zafar Mirza briefed the meeting in detail about the current status of the coronavirus in Pakistan. The meeting reviewed the recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Interior to deal with the outbreak and its potential spread in the country.
Mirza said that the government was taking all necessary preventive measures to stop further spread of the coronavirus. He said that so far the local transmission of coronavirus is not reported and only those are affected who have foreign travel history.
He said that all those entered through the Taftan border are being thoroughly screened for coronavirus and are being quarantined till their clearance. Mirza said the people who suffer from the common cold should not get themselves tested for coronavirus.
Senator Malik said that the Senate Standing Committee on Interior had called an emergency meeting on 27th February just after the confirmation of the first two cases in Pakistan and had proposed the 31 recommendations to the government to combat the spread of coronavirus in the country.
He said that those 31 recommendations will be helpful for the government to combat the virus if followed in letter and spirit. He called for more testing kits adding that we should not deny if someone is suspecting that he is suffering from coronavirus.
Senator Kalsoom Perveen who joined the meeting later conveyed that people of Balochistan are passing through great panic as the preventive measures so far taken there are inadequate and unsatisfactory.
She expressed great annoyance over the mismanagement at Taftan border adding that it has caused the massive outbreak of coronavirus cases across the country.
She said that throughout Balochistan there is a single mobile laboratory and a single ventilator and there is no testing facility at hospitals. She said that people at the Taftan border are kept in tents lacking even the basic necessities.
The Chairman of the Committee advised Prime Minister Imran Khan to convene a joint meeting of all Chief Ministers and announce a relief grant to all provinces to overcome coronavirus. He said that we all with unity have to defeat the coronavirus by strict adherence to the preventive measures.
He said that every pilgrim from Iran should be properly tested on the Taftan border and be quarantined for 14 days. He said that the isolation center should be established in schools with all facilities of screening and testing for coronavirus.
He said that the Quarantine centres should be equipped with the pattern of international standards. He urged the government that in wake of further spread of the coronavirus, the government should export more testing kits and other necessary medical instruments well on time.
He advised the government to allocate additional funds on war footing basis to Benazir Income Support Program for issuance of Mazdoor Cards for needy people.
Malik proposed that the BISP should be given more funds and immediately issue Mazdoor Cards to those whose income is lower than twenty thousand and who do not hold the permanent jobs.
He suggested that this financial support should be paid through BISP till the time the situation is normalized. He expressed that it will be difficult for the government to control the situation and social crisis if hunger is not addressed well on time as it can create anarchy within the country.
He also advised the establishment of the Federal Regulatory Anti-Coronavirus Programme under BISP to regulate and monitor the listing and disbursement of funds among the needy.