Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has said that the government will use technology to trace coronavirus cases and identify virus hotspots throughout the country in order to enforce a “smart lockdown”.
Speaking to reporters at the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) in Islamabad, the minister said that according to available data, Punjab is enforcing smart lockdown in 169 areas, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is enforcing smart lockdown in 177 areas.
“This could be a big area, or as small as one street,” he said.
Umar added that the government has completed work on a Web portal where data will be collected from all 424 hospitals dealing with coronavirus patients in the country.
“Hospitals have already started entering their data. Through this portal, we will be able to know the exact number of beds, ventilators and patients in each hospital,” he said.
The minister added that the government is also working on a mobile application which people could download for information about hospitals and coronavirus facilities.
“If someone tests positive [for the virus], they can consult the app to find the nearest hospital that has facilities,” he said.
The minister said that this is being accomplished for optimal utilisation of resources.
“Through this app, we will be able to avoid a scenario where hospitals do have facilities, but the patient is unable to reach them because he does not know where to go,” he said, adding that both the Web portal and app would go live in the next few days.
Umar added that the government had engaged with the Rural Support Programme Network, which he said had access to more than 25% of the population.
“Not only will we communicate awareness messages through them, they will also identify places where we need to send food, aid, etc,” he said.
The minister noted that some people have stopped revealing that they are exhibiting coronavirus symptoms, or that they have tested positive, over the fear that they would be taken to quarantine centres.
Umar clarified that this is not necessarily the case and that the government had issued a notification in this regard, saying that people who have the facility to isolate at home should be allowed to do so.
He urged people to continue taking preventative measures as it is “more important now than ever”.
The minister hailed the services of healthcare professionals, rescue workers, cleaners and other frontline workers, and said that it is the responsibility of every citizen to follow precautions so that the virus spread would not get out of control.
Meanwhile, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam, will inaugurate Pakistan’s first Urban Slum Covid-19 Response Programme today, in collaboration with UN Habitat.
Chairing the meeting in Islamabad, Aslam said that the overall objective of the programme is to prevent spread of the coronavirus in urban slums areas and to empower local communities to mitigate economic impact of the virus.
Briefing the meeting, UN Habitat country manager Jawed Ali Khan said that project would be launched in collaboration with federal and provincial governments and other stakeholders.
He said that public awareness and advocacy, provision of income generation opportunities and capacity building, and rapid assessment of key challenges and issues of urban slums, would the key components of the initiative.
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