ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has said the tally of novel coronavirus cases across the country may double within next two weeks and can reach 1.2 million cases by the end of July.
The minister said by mid-June, the number of cases had reached around 150,000.
“Based on the current pace of cases, the number of confirmed cases can reach 300,000 by the end of the current month and will reach one million to 1.2 million by the end of July,” he said while addressing a briefing at the National Coordination and Operation Centre (NCOC) recently.
“However,” he added, “the good news is that it is in our hands to control the spread of disease and we can do it by following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).”
While rejecting the recommendation of a complete lockdown to slow down the spread, the minister said Prime Minister Imran Khan had a number of times appealed to the masses to adopt all precautionary measures.
“A number of times the same message has been given from the platform of NCOC,” he said.
Two weeks after easing the lockdown restrictions, the government on May 30 declared the wearing of masks at public places mandatory. “In May, we made the wearing of masks mandatory, because according to studies masks can reduce the spread of the virus by 50 per cent. We should wear masks in offices, factories, markets and public transport. It is the responsibility of the government to care about the masses and that is why we have been pushing people to wear masks,” he said.
Mr Umar reiterated that it was not possible for the authorities to enforce complete lockdown across the country and that’s why the government had to introduce a policy of Tracing, Testing and Quarantine (TTQ). “This way ‘smart lockdowns’ were being enforced at hotspots,” he added.
“Smart lockdown is enforced in Islamabad, and Punjab has also decided to go for smart lockdowns. In India, the complete lockdown was announced due to which people had to travel up to 400 kilometres on foot but the spread of coronavirus could not be stopped there. Now India has also decided to relax the restrictions,” he said.
The minister announced that soon 2,150 intensive care unit beds equipped with oxygen facility would be provided across the country. He said the testing capacity of the virus had been increased. “We were only testing 500 people at the start of the pandemic. Now we are able to conduct 30,000 tests a day and we have decided to take our testing capacity to more than 100,000 tests a day by the end of July,” he said.