Doctors Demand Strict Measures
Medics’ bodies demanded government extend strict lockdown restrictions for a few more weeks to prevent a catastrophic surge in cases and the potential collapse of the healthcare sector during a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on April 22. Doctors estimate COVID-19 infections will surpass 70,000 by May if restrictions are lifted prematurely. With the healthcare industry already overburdened with just 10,000 cases, doctors warn any further increase in emerging infections will result in a situation where medics would be forced to triage patients due to insufficient resources.
PPP Decries Mosques Exemptions
MNA and Central Information Secretary of the PPP Nafisa Shah termed the federal government’s capitulation to clerics’ demands of lifting restrictions on congregational prayers baffling and reiterated the concerns of health professionals in maintain restrictions to prevent further infections. She warned that it was impossible to ensure the government’s 20-point SOPs will be observed in all mosques across the country and urged the State to follow Saudia Arabia’s example where worshippers were told to pray at home.
Traders Threaten to Open Shop
Traders’ bodies announce Karachi’s markets and shops will reopen on the 1st of Ramadan irrespective of restrictions, claiming the Sindh government has delayed issuing SOPs for far too long. Traders had initially planned to open shops on April 15, a day after the federal government extended the country-wide lockdown for two more weeks. However, the move was postponed after reassurances from the Sindh government that SOPs would be provided within 48 hours. Traders claim that Ramadan is an important time of the year for shop owners and to keep markets closed will entail massive losses.
Punjab Short of Ventilators
77 out of 1,245 ventilators in various State-run hospitals in Punjab are already out of order. The Punjab government has so far only procured 20 new ventilators since the COVID-19 outbreak in the province. Roughly 10% of coronavirus patients require ventilators as a last resort – the machines themselves remain occupied for 85% of the time. As the number of patients continues to increase, doctors expect an acute shortage of ventilators for critical cases.
Aviation Official Tests Positive
10 officials from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the Airport Security Force (ASF), and the Jinnah International Airport health department were quarantined after an airport manager tested positive for COVID-19. Airport authorities announce that international flights will continue operations regardless of the infections.
IDB Pledges Aid to Pakistan
Pakistan to receive $500 million for oil & gas imports & $150 million to fight pandemic from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). The IDB has announced a Strategic Preparedness and Response Packaged worth $2.3 billion in order to help mitigate the short and long term impacts of the coronavirus pandemic for its member countries.
UN Aids Thar Farmers
The UN’s Food & Agriculture Organisation (FA0), together with the World Bank, disbursed drip irrigation systems and vegetable kits to aid poor Thar farmers adversely affected by the lockdown situation amidst the pandemic. Water schemes and solar-powered water pumps established in 25 villages in Tharparkar, while a field school has been set up in Umerkot to train farmers in modern, efficient farming techniques keeping in mind social distancing regulations.